Two big touchdowns by senior wide receiver Jalin Lewis led the Golden Valley Grizzlies to a 15-2 first-round win over Nipomo in the CIF Southern Section Division 6 playoffs at Titan Stadium on Friday.
“We knew what we had to do and we came out here and did it,” Lewis said.
Lewis was a dual-threat for the Grizzlies (6-5, 2-3 Foothill League) in the first half. Midway through the opening frame Lewis weaved through the Titan (4-7) defensive line and broke loose once he found some running room for a 56-yard touchdown.
“(Lewis) is a great athlete. He’s been with me for four years,” said Golden Valley head coach Dan Kelly. “He does things with a football that is amazing.”
Capping off a 75-yard drive for Golden Valley, from Santa Clarita, junior quarterback Zack Chevalier found Lewis down the right sideline for a 48-yard touchdown reception.
“Thank goodness he had a great night because our offense sputtered many times,” Kelly said.
The point-after touchdown attempts on Lewis’ touchdowns missed on both tries. Golden Valley took a 12-0 lead into halftime.
The score would have looked a whole lot differently for the Grizzlies if not for offensive penalties that called back three touchdowns, including a 51-yard touchdown run by Lewis in the third quarter after he picked up his own fumble on the bounce.
“At the same time, it wasn’t that frustrating but then it was,” Lewis said about the touchdowns called back.
Golden Valley was called for nine penalties for a loss of 64 yards.
“We don’t try to get wrapped up in the calls but they were definitely coming our way tonight on some crucial touchdowns,” Kelly said.
Nipomo’s defense did its best to contain the Golden Valley. The Titans forced two turnovers before halftime. Running back DJ Turner fumbled the ball on the Grizzlies opening drive and was quickly recovered by Keyshawn Pua for the Titans.
“All in all, I’m proud of the way our boys competed,” said Nipomo head coach Tony Dodge.
Taking the ball at Golden Valley’s 31-yard line following the fumble, Nipomo’s offense couldn’t pick of a first down and brought out the kicking team. Kicker Rolando Flores missed from 44 yards out on field goal attempt.
The Grizzlies were looking to score a third touchdown as time expired in the second quarter. Chevalier threw the deep pass but was intercepted by the Titans’ Gage Wynn.
“Hats off to Nipomo’s defense,” Kelly said. “They played well against the run, stopping us on the inside really well.”
Chevalier completed 15-of-23 attempts, finishing with 184 yards passing. The Grizzlies finished with 165 yards rushing as a team, led by Turner with 88 yards on 23 carries.
“I was very proud of those guys,” Dodge said about the Titans’ defense. “I told them all week we had to stop the run. We loaded the box to stop the run and we had to play man outside. I thought we held our own just fine.”
As the defense worked to keep Nipomo in the game, the Titans’ offense struggled to move the ball down field against the Grizzlies in the first half, being held to 46 yards of total offense.
“Our defense has played fast all year and we hang our hat on our defense to keep us in games when our offense is sputtering,” Kelly said. “Our defense did what they had to do to get out of here tonight.”
The Titans continued to have trouble picking up yardage in the second half. Nipomo finished with 156 yards, led by quarterback Brayden Groshart with 104 yards passing, completing 6-of-21 passes and throwing one interception.
With six minutes to go in the game, Carson Farber come on to boot a 23-yard field goal after Nipomo shut down Golden Valley’s offense at the 6-yard line. Farber’s kick bounced off the right upright and made it through to give the Grizzlies a 15-0 lead.
Titans nearly missed being shut out by the Grizzlies. As Nipomo was driving and looking to score with less than two minutes left, Groshart was picked off at the goal line by Johnathan Kaelin. The interception quickly became a safety as Kaelin was pushed back into the end zone, giving the Titans two points.
“(Kaelin) just didn’t know where he was at on the field,” Kelly said. “We’ll talk about that one Monday in the film session.”
The Grizzlies move on to the quarterfinals in Division 6 to face Fountain Valley next Friday.