It’s another crazy finish as Clayton Valley of Concord is denied go-ahead TD with 4:12 left on a fumble. Redlands East Valley holds on for 34-33 win in CIF Division II state bowl game and earns first CIF state team title in any sport for the school.
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Senior Miles Harrison from Clayton Valley of Concord had a memorable night in the CIF Division II state bowl game against Redlands East Valley with 50 carries for 324 yards and three rushing touchdowns.
It was what happened when Harrison couldn’t get a handle on a 51st carry, however, that turned the evening into a painful memory instead of a happy one.
At that point in the Saturday night game at the StubHub Center in Carson, Clayton Valley was trailing the Wildcats 34-33 but was inside the 5-yard line with the clock inside five minutes. But it wasn’t to be a go-ahead touchdown. Harrison and quarterback teammate Nate Keisel miscommunicated on the exchange, creating a fumble that was recovered at the 7-yard line by REV’s Jaelan Phillips.
Clayton Valley never got another chance. Sophomore QB Armando Herrera came through for two huge third-and-long passing conversions, the final one coming to Oregon-bound Malik Lovette with 1:40 left on a 27-yard strike that effectively ended the game since the Ugly Eagles had no time outs left.With the win, REV (ranked No. 20 overall in the state) completed a 15-1 season and won the first CIF state title in any sport in school history. The school’s girls volleyball team played in two CIF state finals but lost both to Archbishop Mitty of San Jose.
“This was our plan since last February,” said Lovette. “The coaches were telling us all week that big players in big games have to make big plays.”
Clayton Valley, which came into the game as a slight favorite and was No. 11 overall in the state, had its hopes for a 16-0 season dashed. The Ugly Eagles instead ended with the same record as REV.
“That was a great team we played and this was a great atmosphere,” said REV head coach Kurt Bruich. “It was more fun than I could have imagined.”
Bruich, of course, is the son of legendary former Fontana and Fontana Kaiser coach Dick Bruich and played for his dad’s 1987 team that was ranked No. 1 in the state and nation.
“He would have won one of these for sure,” Bruich said of his father. “This is a great opportunity for these kids, but it’s a long time to play. We’ve been going for four months.”
It went pretty much as expected in the first half of the game with Clayton Valley’s running game showing dominance while REV’s talented playmakers made catches in the passing game and couldn’t be stopped.
Clayton Valley scored on its third play of the game on a 10-yard run by Harrison. It was the next play after he broke loose for a 53-yard run on the Ugly Eagles’ second play.
REV couldn’t answer on its first series but got the ball right back after a fumble by Harrison. The Wildcats then tied the score 7-7 on a 10-yard run by Lovette.
In the second quarter, Clayton Valley concluded a nine-play, 66-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge by Harrison but REV stormed right back down the field on a 58-yard drive in which Herrera went 6-of-7. Lovette ran it in once again on a Wildcat formation.
Lovette, who had nine catches for 154 yards, had a 45-yard TD catch on a pass from Herrera (22 of 38, 290 yds, 2 TDs) that tied the score at 21-21 at halftime.Another of Herrera’s TD passes went to Khris Vaughn with 1:08 left in the third quarter from 19 yards out that gave REV a 34-27 lead.
The game then got zany in the fourth quarter.
Clayton Valley came back from that score for an 80-yard drive in 12 plays. Keisel tumbled into the end zone for the TD on a 17-yard run but instead of tying the score at 34-34 the Ugly Eagles were denied on the PAT, which was blocked by Phillips.
REV’s giddiness following the PAT block was short-lived. The Wildcats fumbled on the ensuing kickoff and Clayton Valley recovered at the REV 41.
This set the stage for Clayton Valley to march the ball down to the 3-yard line where the fateful fumble occurred.
Lovette also had two rushing TDs in the game, but the Cal-Hi Sports Game MVP pick just had to go to Harrison even though his team lost.
The senior came within five yards of the single-game record for any CIF bowl game (329 yards by Tyler Gaffney of San Diego Cathedral Catholic in 2008) and set the record for most carries (previous record 36 by Deon Randall of San Diego Francis Parker 2009 and Ryan Bass of Corona Centennial 2007). In fact, Harrison was just four carries short of the NorCal single-game record of 54 set in 2011 by Concord’s Olito Thompson.
“No, I can’t imagine someone with that many carries,” Bruich said. “He’s their guy and they rode him all night.”
The Ugly Eagles just could not ride Harrison for that one more carry that might have won the game.