ARCATA -- An unexpected source got the Arcata High football team going. Then, the usual suspects took over to sink Moreau Catholic.
Edgar Madero's 52-yard kickoff return kick-started fourth-seeded Arcata, which scored 39 unanswered first-half points en route to a 65-27 win over No. 13 seed Moreau Catholic in the first round of the North Coast Section Division IV playoffs Saturday night.
"That's a lineman's dream," Arcata coach Dave Filippini said. "That's just the way our season has been going."
And what was going through Madero's mind as he booked it down the Moreau sideline and into the end zone?
"Run," he said with a smile from ear-to-ear. "Just run as fast as I can."
It was quite the turnaround for the Tigers, who had just seen the Mariners' Jason Hinton return an interception 30 yards for a touchdown.
But Moreau's 7-6 lead lasted all of 11 seconds.
The unpredictable turn of events was exactly what Arcata needed.
"It definitely got us going," senior running back Aleric Stone said of Madero's kickoff return. "Anything we do on defense or special teams we take out with us on offense."
Stone had 17 carries for 238 yards and touchdown runs of 16, 27, 28 and 80 yards, routinely going up the middle and breaking loose in the secondary.
"We got him to adjust to some off-tackle stuff tonight," Filippini said of Stone. "Aleric was fantastic. He ran like he was possessed tonight."
Stone's backfield mate, junior Tyler Keil, had touchdown runs -- both on toss sweeps -- from 13 and 54 yards out during Arcata's first-half barrage. He finished with 146 yards on just 12 carries.
"We studied our film, looked for our places and tried to take advantage against a team who was stacking nine in the box," Filippini said. "Then it was just kind of the same formula we've been using all year."
All of the Tigers' yardage came on the ground, with quarterback Chad Blickenstaff's lone pass being the interception return in the first quarter.
"Arcata's a very good team," said Moreau Catholic coach Andrew Cotter, whose team finished 5-6. "The way they run the ball, they're going to be a tough team to beat in Division IV. We had some things go against us and it's tough to overcome stuff like that."
Hinton added two touchdown runs of 60-plus yards in the third quarter. He finished with 133 yards on the ground on 12 carries and caught two passes for 42 yards.
"He's our guy," Cotter said of his sophomore running back. "He's going to be playing this game for a long time."
With their 10th consecutive win, the Tigers advance to the Division IV quarterfinals and will host No. 5 seed Fort Bragg next Saturday at the Redwood Bowl at 7 p.m. Fort Bragg beat 12th-seeded Piedmont 14-0 Friday night.