Tyler Clark came through with the big stop for Sierra High Friday against Kimball.
His quarterback sack in the closing minutes helped the Timberwolves escape with a 27-22 Valley Oak League victory over visiting the Jaguars.
“We needed that stop,” said Clark, who had several open field tackles to his credit. “We needed to force (Kimball) into a passing situation on fourth and long.”
The Jaguars’ last-ditch effort ended with Kayson Matela and Tim Brown successfully defending the pass in the end zone.
Sierra (2-2, 3-4 overall) kept its postseason hopes alive with the win.
Against Kimball, running back Jayson Manuta and quarterback Anthony Perea were a lethal combination.
Manuta scored three touchdowns, racking up a game-high 115 yards on 27 carries.
Perea completed 10 of his 16 passes for 150 yards and one score. He tacked on 31 yards on the ground on nine carries.
Still, Kimball (0-4, 1-6) proved to be a tough customer at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium.
The Jaguars, in fact, went 79 yards on eight plays on their first possession capped by Dario Valadez’s 36-yard scoring strike from Johnson. Logan Finley’s extra-point kick made it 7-0.
Sierra experienced some ups and downs early on. Linebacker Austin Acker recovered a fumble, but his team returned the favor by coughing the ball back to Kimball.
The Timberwolves finally got their offense untracked late in the first quarter. Perea delivered a 27-yard scoring toss to Zach Penirian. Alex Zepeda’s PAT kick tied the game at 7-7.
Sierra had excellent field position on its next possession, starting from midfield. Manuta’s 2-yard touchdown run put the Timberwolves back on top.
Kimball tied the game at 14-14 when Johnson, from his spot in the defensive backfield, intercepted a deflected Sierra pass and raced 31 yards for pay dirt.
The Jaguars had a chance to build on their lead. They pounded the ball inside the Timberwolves 20 only to come up empty with a turnover.
Clark had an interception in the end zone.
He picked up where he left off, returning the second-half kickoff to the 50.
Sierra needed just four plays for Manuta to score on a 32-yard draw play.
Down 21-14, Kimball found success operating out of the option, with Johnson and running back Evan Owens getting most of the yards.
Johnson’s 1-yard run coupled with his conversion toss to Finley – the Jaguars turned a misplayed snap from center into two points – putting Kimball ahead, 22-21.
In the fourth quarter, Perea directed the Timberwolves on their go-ahead drive by scrambling for 21 yards and later hitting Jordan Lewis on a 19-yard pass.
With 6:49 left in the game, Manuta scored on the 1-yard run.
“We had to gut it out late in the game,” Sierra coach Jeff Harbison said. “There were also adjustments we had to make on defense (in the second half).”
Sierra was nursing a five-point cushion after failing to convert on the two-point conversion pass.
Kimball had the ball near the Timberwolves 20 when Clark delivered the key stop.
“That play was huge because it helped secure a win for my team,” he said.