|Clovis High's Josh Hokit (No. 11) wraps up the ball carrier while Peyton McNair closes in during the Cougars' 27-24 road victory against Paso Robles on Friday, Aug. 28 (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).|
Clovis High’s pursuit of a CIF Central Section Division I title started with a seesaw battle down in the Central Coast on Friday, Aug. 28, as the Cougars won a back-and-forth contest against Paso Robles 27-24.
The Cougars’ defense struggled for three quarters with containing Paso’s monster running back Christian Erickson, who gashed Clovis with 33 carries, 167 yards and three rushing touchdowns. But in the final five minutes of the game, the Cougars forced two crucial turnovers to solidify the road win.
Jared Pereira intercepted a pass near the Paso 31 for the first turnover. Then, the Cougars pounced on a late Paso fumble on a punt that was recovered by Josh Hokit to help seal the win.
Offensively, Clovis High quarterback Sean Kuenzinger had a breakout evening of four touchdown passes against last season’s CIF Southern Section Northern Division champion and state playoff qualifier.
“It feels great. Coach (Rich) Hammond had some great play schemes and we went out and executed,” Kuenzinger said. “It was a team effort.”
Clovis started fast when Kuenzinger faked the handoff and found Coltin Velasquez on a 25-yard strike during the game’s opening play. Then, J.J. wills cut through the middle of Paso’s defense for a 27-yard score while facing a third-and-17 situation.
But after the touchdown, the shootout ensued.
Paso responded by attacking the middle of Clovis’ defense by pounding the ball to Erickson, who sealed the Bearcats’ second drive with a 27-yard scoring scamper, tying the game at 7-7.
Tyson Fraser then followed with a big play of his own on the next kickoff, returning the ball all the way to the Paso 38. From there, Wills added his second touchdown of the night on a 38-yard completion from Kuenzinger.
Paso nailed a field goal to end the half and cut the Clovis lead to 13-10. The Bearcats would then turn to their 220-pound workhorse Erickson to wear down the trenches and score on a 7-yard run, making it 17-13.
But then, Velasquez caught Paso’s secondary off guard, as he found himself all alone on the left hand corner of the end zone on his 9-yard touchdown strike, lifting CHS back in front 20-17.
With 6:48 left in the game, Erickson pummeled through the CHS defense with a 4-yard run that made it 24-20 Paso. Clovis, though, got two big first down catches from Wills that combined for 25 yards. The drive culminated with Velasquez beating his defender in the end zone on a 29-yard bomb from Kuenzinger, putting Clovis ahead for good 27-24.
The Cougars (1-0) will return to Lamonica Stadium to take on Lemoore on Sept. 4. Paso Robles (0-1) travels down to Ventura County to take on Camarillo for its Sept. 4 contest.