No. 4 Porterville moves on to semis with 40-6 win over No. 5 Chavez

Another obstacle was crossed off Porterville High School's path to a Valley title Friday when the Panthers took out fifth-seed Cesar Chavez 40-6 in a CIF Central Section Division IV quarterfinal game at Jacob Rankin Stadium.

The Panthers (8-4) hit first fast, needing just two plays to move the ball from their own 35-yard line into Titans' territory, then sending running back Isaiah Ellis into the end zone on a 17-yard run.

Chavez (9-3) had almost no answer for Ellis and it showed most noticeably on the Panthers' last drive of the first half when PHS quarterback Hector Nava Jr. hit Ellis on three consecutive plays for 30- and 24-yard receptions before a final catch for 15-yards and a touchdown. Ellis scored one last time in the third quarter on a 15-yard run.

“Isaiah is one of our main weapons and we try to put him in situations that he can win,” PHS head coach Michael Machado said. “And also he's a big part of our run game, so when we can get him going, it opens up guys like Javier Benevidez, Jovannie Cardenas. Lisandro Martinez we kind of got a little bit involved tonight too.”

Although it wasn't like last week's 65-0 offensive clinic against 13th-seed Hoover (4-7), Porterville did well on offense with Nava Jr catching Chavez's secondary sleeping with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Cardenas in the first quarter then hitting Benevidez for 13 yards and a touchdown in the fourth. Nava Jr. also scored the team's final touchdown on a six-yard run.

The Panthers were able to keep Chavez off the scoreboard until the 10th minute of the fourth quarter when quarterback Cameron Huerta hit Edwin Lopez for a 76-yard touchdown. The Titans attempted a run for a two-point conversion but failed.

Porterville also failed on their first two point conversions but Nick Ward was 4-of-4 on PATs.

Early in the game the Panthers' defense struggled with stopping the run-heavy Titans but they held things down well enough to keep Chacez out of their 20-yard line the entire game.

Adam Daguman and Danny Castaneda also had an interception each off Huerta.

“Cesar Chavez is a pretty tough team,” Machado said. “They're 9-2 coming in, they're the (South Sequoia) League champ. So you expect them to make some plays but we were a little flat on defense, missed some tackles early. Allowed them to move the ball a little bit, but ultimately we kept them out of the end zone and in playoff football, that's really what we need to do.”

Last season Porterville's season came to end in the quarterfinals after getting the No. 1 seed and an opening round. This time around they continue in the playoffs and get a chance to take down a No. 1 seed in Washington Union (10-1), who beat eighth-seed North (8-4) 42-13 in their quarterfinal game.

“We didn't really look at as the quarterfinals,” Machado said. “We have one goal, and that's to continue to play well into the winter. It is good to get this one tonight, but it's just another step in the road that we're trying to travel down.”

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