ST. LOUIS -- Dereke Tipler picked the right time to play the best football game of his high school career.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound tailback scored a career-high six touchdowns and rushed for career-high 297 yards in NMCC's 49-26 win over Clayton Monday, giving the Eagles their first quarterfinal win ever.
"Outstanding, outstanding player," said Clayton coach Larry Frost. "He's going to be a good football player for somebody on the next level. We just couldn't handle him."
Along with Tipler, quarterback Brian Murph and running back Desmond Sims shredded the shellshocked Clayton defense all night, racking up a whopping 603 yards of offense.
"We thought coming in that we could score on them," said NMCC coach Steve Rogers. "I don't know how impressed they were with us, but we weren't that impressed with their defense. We had some turnovers and made some stupid penalties, but somewhere along the way we scored about seven touchdowns. We had to be doing something right. The kids really wanted it and played hard. They put forth a great effort tonight."
NMCC (11-1) will host Salem, who defeated Duchesne 35-7, in the semifinal round on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
"Tipler played well, Murph played well, Desmond played well, and the line blocked extremely well tonight," said Rogers. "We did pretty much what we wanted to do. It was just a big win for us."
The Eagles scored on their first two possessions of the game as Tipler capped off a drive from seven yards out, then Murph hooked up with Sims for a 70-yard touchdown.
Tipler went on to score touchdowns on runs of 52, 35, 30 and 9 yards, and even caught a 24-yard TD pass in the second quarter.
"They're a very fine football team," said Frost. "Our kids played hard and we did the best we could. We had them, and then they'd break a long run. We had to stop their big plays and we couldn't do that."
NMCC's defense allowed Clayton just five first downs in the contest, but the Greyhounds found other ways to score. Otis Karngbaye returned a fumble 38 yards for a touchdown and Adam Pearson returned a kickoff 83 yards for another TD.
Quarterback Greg Lazerus scored Clayton's first touchdown in the second quarter when he called his own number and broke off a 52-yard TD up the gut in the second quarter.
Todd Abrams scored the Greyhounds' other touchdown from eight yards out.
"Our special teams let us down a little bit," said Rogers. "We kind of played in spurts, and had a couple of breakdowns. Fortunately, we had a lot of good offense going tonight."
Murph checked in with 105 yards through the air and 87 on the ground. Sims finished with 91 yards rushing and 70 receiving. Abrams led all Clayton rushers with 49 yards on six carries.
Clayton's standout running back Brookes Robinson carried the ball just three times in the first quarter and sat out the rest of the game with a deep thigh bruise.
"He just couldn't go," explained Frost. "Last week he went and I'm sure it did more damage. We had a doctor on the sideline that made the decision. We can't hurt his career."
Other Clayton players did play at less than 100 percent, but Frost offered up no excuses.
"I wish we were a little healthier, but I'm not going to make any excuses," said Frost.
"I wish our quarterback was healthy, I wish Brookes was healthy, and I wish Rodney Payne was healthy, but that's football. You have to give (NMCC) all the credit. I think they will do well in the next round. Who knows, maybe they will make it all the way. It wouldn't be too bad to lose to the state champs."
First NMCC has to deal with Salem (11-1) in Saturday's semifinal game.
"They're big, physical, and run the wishbone," said Rogers.
"It will be a real good test at our place. I don't think they've seen the kind of speed they're going to see Saturday at our place. It should be a real big ballgame."