FRESNO — Bakersfield High gave the top team in the Central Section all it could handle Friday night.
In a wild semifinals showdown that resulted in a shootout on the scoreboard, the No. 4-seeded Drillers fell short to No. 1 Fresno-Central, 46-34, at Koligian Stadium in Fresno.
Bakersfield High closes its season with a 9-4 overall record while Central is 12-0. The Grizzlies will be back on their home field next week, when they host No. 3 Liberty for the Central Section Division I championship.
“I really love what our kids did. They left everything on the field tonight,” said Drillers head coach Paul Golla. “I really have a lot of respect for coach (Kyle Biggs) and what he’s done here at Central. It’s become a nice rivalry between us.”
It was a track meet from the start, with touchdowns coming in back-and-forth fashion.
Central came into the contest with an elite passing attack, with quarterback Trent Tompkins (3,761 yards, 51 passing touchdowns entering Friday’s game) throwing to a plethora of receiving targets.
Still, the Drillers secondary matched up well early and — outside of Tompkins’ brillant 20-yard touchdown run to get things started — held Central’s offense relatively in check.
BHS scored three first half TDs — a 34-yard run from quarterback Cameron Williams and two short scoring runs from Wesley Wilson and Ceyontay Bell — to take a 21-14 lead into the locker room.
The two teams traded touchdowns to start the third quarter before Tompkins hit Manuel Oliver-Davis on a 2-yard TD to make the score 28-27 Central entering the fourth.
Wilson scored on a 7-yard run in on the first play of the fourth quarter — it was a fourth-and-1 call, as the BHS offensive line sealed the Central defensive front and Wilson got low to the ground and rumbled in.
From there, the Grizzlies would score three unanswered touchdowns. Tompkins fired 37- and 67-yard scoring strikes to Quali Conley and Jeremiah Hunter. Then the quarterback put the finishing touches on things with a 30-yard scoring run on third down to supply the final margin.
“We didn’t want our season to end,” Grizzlies coach Kyle Biggs said of second half adjustments. “It wasn’t an X’s and O’s thing. It was just, ‘We got 24 minutes to save our season.’”
Biggs said the Drillers schemes — the veer-option offense and a swarming defense with a lockdown secondary — and talent on both sides of the ball made them the Grizzlies’ toughest opponent to date.
“That was by far the most talented team we’ve seen. Very talented, very well coached,” he said. “Very difficult to prepare for them in one week.”
Williams was sensational, the ultimate X-factor for the Drillers. His play at quarterback said it all — making plays and keeping others alive with his legs, while throwing 50-yard ropes downfield on the run.
He finished with 153 passing yards, 83 rushing with his lone TD coming on the ground.
“What a phenomenal quarterback he is,” Golla said. “He had a great season and, towards the end of the year, he just took control. Very proud of Cam.”
The Drillers were flagged 12 times for 105 yards while the Grizzlies committed two penalties for 15.
“We came in, we were confident,” Williams said. “Second half, we just let go of some stuff. If we didn’t do that, I feel like the outcome of this game would be different.”
No. 1 Fresno-Central 46, No. 4 Bakersfield High 34
Central Section Division I semifinal
Bakersfield High 7 14 6 7 — 34
Central 7 7 14 18 — 46
C - Tompkins 20 run (Cuevas kick)
BHS - Williams 34 run (Bonner kick)
BHS - Wilson 2 run (Bonner kick)
C - Conley 28 run (Cuevas kick)
BHS - Bell 8 run (Bonner kick)
BHS - Wilson 3 run (Kick failed)
C - Tompkins 49 pass to Conley (Cuevas kick)
C - Tompkins 2 pass to Oliver-Davis (Cuevas kick)
BHS - Wilson 7 run (Bonner kick)
C - Tompkins 37 pass to Conley (kick failed)
C - Tompkins 67 pass to Hunter (kick failed)
C - Tompkins 30 run (pass failed)
RUSHING — BHS: Williams 10-93, Wilson 21-83, Issac Jernigan 5-64, Bell 9-56, Jones 3-13, Isaiah Jernigan 2-12. C: Conley 17-117, Tompkins 13-100, Maxwell 1-2.
PASSING — BHS: Williams 10-18-0-153. C: Tompkins 18-29-1-327.
RECEIVING — BHS: Jones 2-95, Issac Jernigan 4-23, Bell 2-18, Wilson 1-11. C: Hunter 7-139, Conley 2-86, Clements 4-47, Oliver-Davis 3-29, Brown 1-15, Grayson 1-2.
W-L: BHS 9-4; CHS 12-0.