CONCORD -- The Miramonte High football team rode the arm of quarterback Drew Anderson and an inspired defense to a 44-38 upset of second-seed and host Clayton Valley Charter on Friday night in the semifinals of the North Coast Section Division II playoffs.
Anderson raised his arms in triumph as the final seconds ticked away, the No. 3 Matadors running out the clock on the defending Division II champs.
"Our guys really stepped it up," Miramonte coach Jack Schram said. "The offense did great. The O-line did great."
Miramonte will play the winner of Saturday's other semifinal game between No. 1 Casa Grande and No. 4 Montgomery in the championship game on Dec. 6 or 7 at a site to be determined. The Matadors have not advanced to a section title games since 2006, and have not won an NCS crown since 2003.
In a wild finish, the Matadors (11-2) led 44-30 on a 3-yard touchdown run by Ray Clark with 5:08 left in the fourth quarter. But the Eagles' Xavier Crawford returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown. The two-point run by Miles Harrison, who carried 33 times for 237 yards, cut the deficit to 44-38.
Miramonte recovered Clayton Valley's onside kick attempt, and ran out the clock with the help of a 15-yard completion from Anderson, who passed for 344 yards and three touchdowns, on a fourth-and-7 play.
The Matadors' defense held the Eagles to 22 points under their average in the playoffs. They set the tone in the second half with a huge stop of Harrison on fourth down on the Eagles' first possession, holding him to three yards on fourth-and-6. The Matadors followed with a 76-yard touchdown march capped by Anderson's 10-yard touchdown completion to his brother, Ryan.
However, Clayton Valley (11-2) cut the deficit to 36-30 on a stunning pass for a 22-yard touchdown from Harrison to quarterback Gabe Taylor. On fourth-and-14, Harrison took a hand off and ran to the left before lobbing the scoring pass to Taylor on the right. Harrison then ran in the two-point try.
During an entertaining first half, the Matadors used a big play on special teams to vault ahead late in the second quarter. After Harrison scored on a 25-yard run for his third touchdown of the half, the Matadors answered with a 7-yard scoring pass from Anderson to Ryan Anderson, followed by a two-point completion from Anderson to Greg Pietrykowski to cut the deficit to 22-21.
The Matadors' Clayton Stehr recovered an onside kick, setting up another 1-yard touchdown run by Clark, who ran for 112 yards. The Anderson-to-Anderson combination connected again on a two-point conversion, and Miramonte had a 29-22 lead at the intermission.
Friday's game figured to be a high-octane battle, and it didn't disappoint. Anderson had two touchdown completions and scored on a 5-yard run in the first half.
But Harrison, showing patience and powerful strides, had 132 yards rushing in the first half. He scored back-to-back touchdowns on runs of 8 and 23 yards to give the Eagles a 14-7 lead, before Anderson completed a 2-yard TD pass to Matthew Metheny to cut the deficit to 14-13 as the Matadors failed on the two-point try.
Miramonte 44, Clayton Valley Charter 38
Miramonte 7 22 7 8-- 44
Clayton 0 22 0 16-- 38
M -- D. Anderson 5 run (Visher kick)
CV -- Harrison 8 run (Wraa run)
CV -- Harrison 23 run (run failed)
M -- Matheny 2 pass from D. Anderson (pass failed)
CV -- Harrison 25 run (Harrison run)
M -- R. Anderson 7 pass from D. Anderson (Pietrykowski pass from D. Anderson)
M -- Clark 1 run (R. Anderson pass from D. Anderson)
M -- R. Anderson 10 pass from D. Anderson (Visher kick)
CV -- Taylor 22 pass from Harrison (Harrison run)
M -- Clark 3 run (Pietrykowski pass from D. Anderson)
CV -- Crawford 92 kick return (Harrison run)
Rushing: M -- Clark 22-112, R. Anderson 1-4, D. Anderson 3-3, Lavis 2-(-3). Totals 28-116. CV -- Harrison 33-237, Crawford 2-21, Taylor 4-11, Vega 1-4, Davis 1-0, Wraa 1-0. Totals 42-273. Passing: M -- D Anderson 27-38-0 339. CV -- Taylor 0-1-0 0, Harrison 1-1-0 22. Receiving: M -- R. Anderson 7-92, Clark 7-67, Fuller 6-82, Paoletti 2-34, Pietrykowski 2-43, Lavis 1-12, Metheny 1-5, Shepard 1-4. Totals 27-339. CV -- Harrison 1-22. Fumbles/lost: Clayton Valley -- 0/0, Miramonte -- 0/0. Records: Clayton Valley 11-2, Miramonte 11-2.