Taft High opened the CIF Central Section playoffs with a 26-14 win over Lindsay Friday.
The Wildcats built a 26-0 lead by the third quarter and gave up a pair of touchdowns in the last five minutes to the Cardinals.
Taft moves on to the Div. 6 semifinals and will host Woodlake this Friday at 7 p.m.
“ We're not done. We've got a lot more work to do," Wildcat coach Brian Durkan said. "We feel like we have a team that can do a little something and that's one step in the journey.”
This was Taft's first playoff victory in over 10 years. . Taft totaled 319 yards total offense with 92 passing and 227 rushing yards
Quarterback Jackson Berry threw was 5-11 passing and had, 33 yards rushing and 1 touchdown. Cyris Gaylord got 14 carries with 110 rushing yards and also scored a touchdown.
The Wildcats scored three touchdowns in the first half.
To start off the Cats would get the kickoff, Bradley Reaves returned the kick to the Wildcats 36. On second and seven at the Wildcats 39 Berry threw to Richard Jennings for a 16 yard pass. Jennings caught the pass at the Cats 40 and ran up field getting stopped at the Cardinals 45. In a second and seven situation at Lindsay’s 42 Gaylord made a big 38 yard run play bringing the Cats to Lindsay’s 9 yard line. Next play on first and goal Berry ran into the end zone for the Cats first touchdown with 9:52 left in the first quarter.
The 'Cats threatened on their third possession in the second quarter.
Lindsay got a break on a Taft fumble deep in Cardinal territory, but the Cardinals drive would be short lived they had to punt from their own 22. On the punt Chase Gratt was able to block Lindsay’s kick with Logun Clark able to recover the ball at the Cardinals 11 at 7:56 in the second quarter. On third down at the Cardinals 4 Berry would almost come up short for a first down. At first and goal Gaylord dived through the middle almost getting stopped by the Cardinals defense but was able to reach in over the end zone line for a touchdown at 6:32. Cats attempted another 2 point conversion but it was no good making the score 12-0.
After the kick the Cardinals would start off at their own 33. On first down Lindsay quarterback Samuel Reyes made a pass attempt to David Orozco but was intercepted by Richard Jennings where he got brought down at the Cardinals own 36. Taft would be able to pick up a first down at the Lindsay 19. On second down with eight to go Bradley Reaves snagged Berry's pass for a 12 yard touchdown with 4:19 in the second quarter.
In the second half Lindsay was able to get some steam. Lindsay's defense held Taft on their first drive forcing the punt from the Cats 42. On the punt return Richard Diaz squeezed through the Cats defense for a touchdown but was called back for a block in the back. At 5:50 the Cardinals fumbled the ball with the Cats able to recover it at their own 25. On their first play of the new drive Brock Mizener ran a 37 yard run. On the run Mizener was horse-collared at the Cardinals 49 and the penalty yards give Taft a first down at the Lindsay 34. On third and two at the 22 Berry made a hand off to Mizener who ran in for a 16 yard touchdown at 3:05 in the third quarter.
The Cats defense would hold well in the fourth but Lindsay was able to make a few good plays scoring them two touchdowns.
After the game Berry gave his thoughts on the win saying.
“It’s amazing. I mean I couldn't say anything better, the senior quarterback said. (On) offense we did really well but defense needs to pick it up on the passing but overall it was good.”