Clovis North came into Friday’s matchup with Clovis East looking to avenge its first loss of the season – a 41-13 loss to Clovis West.
And they did just that at Lamonica Stadium.
The Broncos were forced into a grueling, battle-in-the-trenches game, but nonetheless came out victorious.
“I’m just proud of our kids,” Clovis North head coach Michael Jacot Sr. said. “We had a rough week last week, Clovis West kind of took it to us and knowing coming into this one what kind of physical battle it was going to be, I’m proud of how our kids responded.
“They answered the call when they had to.”
Garrett Jones led the way for Clovis North in the air with two touchdown passes in the second quarter. The first a 55-yard catch and run by Brennon Lamee and the second a 15-yard pass to Nick Pigott who found space in the end zone just before the half.
And although Jones had two touchdown passes on the night, a night in which the Broncos failed to score more than two touchdowns for the second straight week, it was the Broncos strength in the trenches that kept Clovis North in the game.
Clovis East’s brand of physical, punishing football is known around the TRAC and Friday night was no different. Between Chandler Hamilton and Jo’Nation Dejohnette, the Timberwolves were committed to their run game.
Hamilton had a touchdown run in the first half to open the scoring in the second quarter and Dejohnette scored Clovis East’s final touchdown of the game, a fourth-quarter plunge to bring the Timberwolves back within a point.
But it wasn’t just their touchdown runs that put Clovis North on their heels at times. Their ability to step up to the line, play after play and slam the ball down the Broncos defensive line was just another example of the Timberwolves style of play.
But the Broncos didn’t shy away from the physicality, they embraced it.
“Our guys were ready for it and they matched it,” Jacot Sr. said on the game’s physicality.
The first quarter came and went as both TRAC schools traded drives, feeling each other out.
The encounter didn’t heat up until the second quarter where they combined for 21 points.
Clovis East drove the ball down the field with less than 10 minutes remaining on the clock, cashing in for the lead. Hamilton and the Timberwolves, in road whites, scored on a short touchdown run.
Bryant Thao nailed the extra point.
Up a touchdown, with halftime looming, Clovis North head coach Michael Jacot took to his players, firing them up on the sidelines before his offense hit the field.
His words of encouragement on the sidelines paid off after Jones tied the game with a single throw.
Jones, the backup quarterback just a matter of weeks ago, did what his team and coach have been seeing from him since he took over for Trenton Luera, and that’s win. The junior came into the game against Ridgeview on September 20 and rescued his team from a 13-0 deficit.
He went on to throw for 328 yards and 5 TDs, leading the Broncos back to a victory.
And against the Timberwolves, he did it again.
With four minutes remaining in the second quarter, Jones found Lamee on a 55-yard catch and run. Jones hung in the pocket before finding his playmaker Lamee, who caught the pass and turned up field for the Broncos opening strike.
Their momentum on offense fed into the defense after they forced the Timberwolves to give the ball back with under a minute remaining.
That was more than enough time for Jones and the Clovis North offense as they marched down the field swiftly, before Jones found Pigott in the end zone with less than 20 seconds left on the clock.
Clovis North took a 14-7 lead into the half and with just a seven-point advantage; the Broncos were more than ready to defend their lead in the second half.
And up to the task, Cade Foraker and Michael Jacot Jr.
Foraker, a senior defensive end, was stout all evening. If he wasn’t in the Timberwolves backfield bringing Sean Kelly to the ground, he was holding up blocks and keeping the offensive line off the Broncos linebackers.
His pressure, along with the Broncos front seven were key in one of the biggest plays of the night – Jacot Jr.’s interception.
Like he’s done all season at the safety position, Jacot Jr. read Kelly’s eyes the whole way, but it was the pressure up front that wrecked the play as Kelly was forced to toss a floating ball, allowing Jacot Jr. to intercept the pass in the second half.
Unfortunately, the Broncos were unable to cash in. Clovis East brought the physicality on defense both in the trenches, but also the secondary.
They held the Broncos high-powered offense to just 14 points, but stopping Clovis North in the second half kept their hopes alive.
The Broncos tried to pass the ball, but Clovis East’s secondary, led by Xavier Corona, forced Jones into tight windows all night, only giving up the one big play to Lamee in the first half.
But, with momentum on the Broncos side after a 14-point quarter, Clovis East never panicked. They stuck to their formula and it paid off late in the fourth quarter.
Dejohnette took a short goal line plunge to cut the deficit 14-13, but that was as close as they were going to get to the Broncos.
As Thao stepped back to take the game-typing point after, Jacot Jr. seemingly did what he always does, make plays when the team needs him.
He soared in from the right side of the line and got a hand on the ball, knocking it to the ground and winning the game in the process.
“I’m proud of him, he’s come a long way and he keeps getting better each week,” Jacot Sr. “I’m just proud of the young man that he is.”
Clovis North (6-1, 1-1) now looks to a stern test against the defending TRAC champions and undefeated Central Grizzlies (7-0, 2-0) next Friday away from home.