TULARE — It was as if no one in the stadium realized or understood the magnitude of what had just happened Friday night. Tulare Union running back Kazmeir Allen burst through the Garces defense’s second level on a 62-yard pitch to the right and crossed the goal line, breaking the California all-time record for touchdowns in a season.
The Tribe fans celebrated just like the 64 previous touchdowns Allen scored this year: with a few cheers and soft cranking of noisemakers late in the second quarter. They celebrated just like they did after Tulare Union’s last three offensive plays, which went for touchdowns of 1, 58 and 62 yards.
The Garces side stayed understandably silent.
The No. 4 Rams (5-7) fell victim to a record-setting night by Allen and a continuation of a perfect season for No. 1 Tulare Union (12-0). The Tribe beat Garces, 42-12 at Bob Mathias Stadium in the semifinal round of the Central Section Division II playoffs.
The Tribe will host No. 2 Dinuba in the finals. Garces’ season is over.
“Tonight, we just ran into a better football team with some really, really good athletes across the board,” Garces head coach AJ Gass said.
The Rams had won five of their last six games coming into the contest after starting the year 0-4. Gass took a team lacking seniors and filled with sophomores and meshed it into a cohesive group.
But behind 198 rushing yards and three touchdowns from Allen, the Tribe advanced. He now has 66 touchdowns on the season, breaking the previous record of 64 set by Ventura’s Tyler Ebell in 2000, according to Cal-Hi Sports.
“Just a crazy accomplishment,” Allen said. “I just want to thank my O-line. You can't do it by yourself without the people blocking for you.”
Garces running back Isaiah Martin scored the only touchdown of the night for the Rams. It came with 7:46 left in the fourth quarter and was the last score of the game. The Garces’ special teams unit made the team’s best play of the day with a blocked field goal to start the drive.
The offensive got down to the 10 and 7 yard lines on two different drives in the second quarter, but had to settle for field goals.
“I love them to death,” said Martin, the program’s all-time leading rusher, of his team. “We just came out here and give it all we had.”
Tulare Union scored a touchdown on its second drive of the game and the next five in a row after that. Allen walked the tightrope along the sideline for an 18-yard score in the third quarter. Quarterback Nathan Lamb threw for 266 and two touchdowns, including two deep balls down the sideline for more than 40 yards.
The Rams stacked the box at times, including safety and corner blitzes, and Tulare Union responded with its successful deep passes.
Garces was still able to hold Tulare Union — which had scored more than 60 points in its last three games — to a tie for its lowest point total of the season.
“We came in really young, really raw and really immature and we grew a lot during the course of the year,” Gass said. “... Given the fact that we had such a small senior class we were missing some of that experience and that’s the type of stuff you work on in the offseason.”
Jon Mettus can be reached at (661) 395-7389. Follow him on Twitter: @jmettus.