By Ray Hamill — Even without starting quarterback Shane Purcell, the Arcata Tigers proved way too much for San Lorenzo to handle on Friday night.
Back-up QB Alex Jioras got his second straight start and threw for four touchdowns, all to receiver Carson Tucker, as the Tigers ran out to an easy 44-0 victory in the NCS Division-6 quarterfinals at the Redwood Bowl.
The win sets up a home semifinal next weekend against Justin-Siena, which defeated Saint Mary’s 31-13 on Friday.
Purcell, who took a hard hit in a game against McKinleyville two weeks ago, missed his second straight game, but that didn’t stop the Tigers from dominating.
The Arcata offense scored on four of five first-half possessions to quickly take control of the game, while the defense was just as effective, holding the visitors to minus-15 yards offense in the first half.
The Tigers D had an impressive second-quarter stand deep in their own territory after a big punt return gave San Lorenzo possession at the Arcata 3.
“We looked good tonight,” Arcata head coach Jamal Jones said. “We’ve been waiting for our chance and we had a hell of a week of practice.”
Alex Gorge got the scoring started for the home team on a 32-yard TD run late in the first quarter, as the Tigers came out running the ball strong.
The Tigers added three TDs in the second quarter, all on passes from Jioras to Tucker, on plays of 16, 28 and 13 yards.
The third TD of the period was set up on a partially blocked punt by Wiyott Tierney that was recovered by Gorge.
Things got worse for San Lorenzo after the interval, with the Tigers quickly marching 60 yards on five plays and finding the end zone on Gorge’s second TD run of the night, this one from five yards out.
Check out Carson Tucker’s third TD catch of the night above …
Purcell could have played if needed, but Jones decided to keep him out one more week.
“It was a game-time decision,” the coach said. “We knew he was ready to go if we needed him, but we knew we could run the ball and we wanted to give him one more week to get back to being Shane.”
Jioras had a good night replacing the starter, while also making some big plays at linebacker.
“He can throw the football and he’s a smart kid,” Jones said. “And he knows the offense and we had our weapons back around him.
“He’s a gamer. He was locked in and I appreciate his effort. It was a special day for him.”
Tucker doesn’t seem to mind who throws him the ball.
“He’s as legit as it comes,” Jones said of the senior reciever.
The head coach also praised the performance of his offensive line and the entire defense.
“The quarterback had time to throw the ball,” he said. “A major shoutout to our team and our defense. The discipline of our defense tonight. We took everything they wanted to do away.”
And playing at home helped.
“Our sideline, our crowd, we fed off their energy,” Jones said.