Down by a touchdown and with half a minute left in the game, the Edison Tigers faced 4th-and-7 inside the Broncos’ red zone. Edison quarterback Matthew Torres dropped back to pass, immediately felt Clovis North’s pass rush coming after him, threw the ball up in desperation and ended up overthrowing his outlet receiver.
The ball hit the ground and the Broncos defense began jumping up and down and rushed to the sideline to celebrate with their teammates. The Broncos (1-2) knew it was over, they had held off the Tigers for the 17-10 win – their first of the season.
But Friday’s neutral site, non-conference showdown between Clovis North and Edison (1-3) featured that type of defensive effort all night long – from both sides.
“It was really a classic, physical struggle between two high school football teams,” Clovis North head coach Tim Simons said. “I’m really proud my guys were able to finish and come away with the win. It was not easy.”
The tight, back-and-forth brawl had the game tied at 10 each heading into the fourth quarter.
“The defense showed a lot of character and we’ve been talking a lot about finishing,” Simons said. “The offense finished their drive, the defense finished down deep in our territory and I was extremely proud of the whole team.”
With a four-point lead at halftime, the Broncos received the ball to begin the second half and the offense stalled near midfield. The punt unit came on the field and as soon as the ball was snapped, several Edison Tigers penetrated and were able to block the punt. The ball ended up in bounds near the Tigers’ sideline and every player – from both sides – stood around wondering what just happened.
The entire stadium got silent for a couple seconds then the Edison bleachers and sideline erupted as the next scene that unfolded was outside linebacker David Tate Jr. scooping up the ball and running down the sideline all the way to the end zone. Tate’s scoop and score put the Tigers up 10-7 and gave them their first and only lead of the game.
“We were all around the ball and then I hear coach yell ‘pick it up!’” Tate said. “The ball rolled right into my area, so I just picked it up and started running. It was a great feeling.”
But the Broncos would answer back and tie the game late in the third quarter on a short field goal after being held up by the Tigers’ defense inside the red zone. The scoring drive was set up by a deep connection from quarterback Jeremy Miller to wide receiver Chase Maurer.
Clovis North put together its second touchdown drive of the night late in the game that included a lot of hard-nosed running. The 46-yard drive would be capped by a Jayson Lee seven-yard rushing touchdown to mark the senior running back’s second touchdown of the night, giving the Broncos a 17-10 lead with just over five minutes to go in the ballgame.
“It was a slugfest,” Edison head coach Matt Johnson said. “[Clovis North] had more offense than we had and that’s really what it comes down to. Defensively, give both sides big time credit.”
Early mistakes cost the Tigers. On the opening drive, Edison sophomore running back Elijah Isiah coughed up the ball inside team territory and the Broncos recovered it on the 27-yard line near the Tigers’ sideline.
The Broncos would take advantage of the turnover, putting together a six-play, 27-yard drive capped by a Lee rushing touchdown for the early 7-0 lead.
The remainder of the first half featured a gritty defensive battle. With the Broncos near midfield and driving, Clovis North quarterback Jeremy Miller’s deep attempt was intercepted by Tigers’ free safety Steve Stephens, who returned the pick all the way down to the Clovis North nine-yard line, setting his team up with a first-and-goal with about two minutes to go in the opening half.
“They made it difficult to throw the ball on and they were difficult to run on too, as a matter of fact,” Simons said. “They’re a damn good defensive team.”