BY STEVE LYNCH Special to The Californian
LEMOORE -- Same two teams. Same venue. Different outcome.
West failed in its bid to pull the upset and knock Lemoore out of the playoffs for a second straight year.
Thanks mainly to a strong defensive effort, the Tigers were able to come away with a 17-10 Central Section Division II first-round victory over the visiting Vikings on Friday night.
Down 17-3 with less than two minutes left, No. 10 West (5-6) made a game of it when Josh Boyd took a kickoff return 80 yards for a touchdown.
But No. 7 Lemoore (7-4) recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock.
"In the playoffs the margin for error is very thin and we made some mental mistakes," West coach Mark Camps said. "This was just kind of an old-school, physical, playoff football game. ... They made a few more plays than we did, but I thought our kids played lights-out."
The Tigers' swarming defense held West to 100 yards of net offense, all of it on the ground.
West limited the section's second leading rusher, Richard Doctor, to 128 yards on 29 carries.
Doctor, who came into the night with 2,339 yards and 32 touchdowns on the ground in 10 games, was kept out of the end zone for the first time this season.
West was held scoreless until Jordy Cruz booted a 32-yard field goal with 6:07 left, trimming Lemoore's lead to 10-3.
Four minutes later, Tigers quarterback Cort Groathouse raced 42 yards for a touchdown on a naked bootleg, seemingly ending West's hopes.
However, Boyd gave the Viking another breath of life with his spectacular kickoff return TD just seconds later.
"West is a very formidable opponent," Lemoore coach Shannon S. Pulliam said. "... I didn't expect anything less than a football game like that."
Pulliam acknowledged Lemoore's 2012 playoff loss to West helped motivate his team.
"We used a little bit of the revenge thing," Pulliam said. "Being the higher seed last year and we got knocked off."
West had to play backup quarterback Enrique Salazar for most of the game Friday because regular startrer Fondereaux Wilson suffered a sprained ankle late in the first quarter.
Stanley Dubard had the Vikings' longest offensive play of the game, a fourth-quarter 25-yard run, and finished with 59 yards on 16 carries.
"They have a really good defense," Camps said. "They've had a good defense for two years. They do a great job with that so I have to give them a lot of credit. But we missed a few opportunities."
Lemoore led 10-0 at halftime. The Tigers out-gained the Vikings 176-30 in the first half.
After taking its opening possession down to the Lemoore 22 yard line, West failed to convert on fourth-and-2 as Dubard managed only a one yard gain.
"They were doing a good job filling it in, playing hard, rushing to the ball and wrapping up," Dubard said of the Lemoore defense.
That was the Vikings' deepest penetration of the first half.
West's five second quarter possessions ended with four punts and an interception.
Lemoore took opening kickoff and moved the ball down to the West 6 yard line before the drive stalled and it was forced to settle for a 23-yard field goal by Spencer Lambert.
Tylor Williams and Jarelle Starr each had first-half interceptions for West.