Clarkston — Three consecutive scoring drives to open the game gave Clarkston the boost it needed to defeat Walled Lake Central, 40-22, in a Division 1 football quarterfinal Friday night.
The defending Division 1 champs are riding a 25-game winning streak and will face the winner of Saturday's Hudsonville-East Kentwood game in the semifinals.
Clarkston quarterback D.J Zezula hasn't lost since the opening game of 2013, but still remembers the feeling and never wants to experience it again.
"We've never lost on this field and that is huge," Zezula said. "(Losing is) still in the back of my mind, that's terrible, we definitely don't wanna go back to that."
"Keep that balance and take what they give us. We got it done when we had to," Clarkston coach Kurt Richardson said. "They're pretty confident about things. They're not arrogant, they're confident."
The game got off to a fast start for Central, on the third play from scrimmage, Parker Krupic found a hole and ran it 58 yards for a touchdown to take an early 7-0 lead.
Central attempted an onside kick, but to no avail, giving Clarkston great starting field position.
It took full advantage, scoring on its opening drive as well, thanks to a 24-yard touchdown pass from Zezula to a wide open Austin Egler.
Zezula was everywhere on the night, accounting for 345 total yards and four touchdowns (three rushing).
Clarkston scored on its first three drives, with Zezula accounting for a 13-yard quarterback keeper and a 38-yard run by Nolan Eriksen on fourth-and-inches.
Eriksen got an inch of daylight and blew right past everyone.
Central (9-3) was able to grab a lifeline right before the half, thanks to a 7-yard quarterback run by Nick Krumm with 46.3 seconds left in the half, to cut the score to 21-14.
Krumm had 125 rush yards on 23 rushing attempts.
Clarkston (12-0) got on the board early in the second half, thanks to good play-calling and Central committing four penalties on its first drive of the second half.
"That's a championship football team there," said Central coach Bob Meyer. "It takes the wind right out of our sails, we had two great defensive stops before the half, we had a nice drive offensively, and we come out and start the second half just flat."
Zezula scored his second rushing touchdown from one yard.
He then got his third of the night on their next possession from four yards in a drive that saw Clarkston take more than five minutes off the clock in 12 plays.
Central answered when Krumm scored his second touchdown of the night on a fourth-and-inches sneak from the 1-yard line, but Central took nine minutes off the clock and was just too far behind.
Eriksen iced the game with just under two and a half minutes to go, scoring his second touchdown on the night with a 44-yard run.
He finished with 159 yards on 14 carries.