With a desperately needed victory all but assured, Clovis West High went with the dagger.
And Kordel Hoffman's third touchdown pass of the night with 3 seconds left put the exclamation point on the Golden Eagles' first win of the season, a 27-14 homecoming triumph over The Bee's Central Section No. 6- ranked Bullard on Friday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Clovis West, which opened the season 0-3 and outscored 128-53 by out-of-section opponents, faced a fourth-and-goal from the Bullard 15 with 12 seconds left and a 20-14 lead.
But rather than try another Nick Marrone field goal (who already had connected from 29 and 36 yards) or run again behind Tristan Edwards (who had 178 yards on 37 carries to that point), Golden Eagles coach Michael Parsons elected to let his junior quarterback throw a fade into the end zone.
In a jump ball with Bullard's John Brown, Darian Owens wrestled the ball away for a 15-yard touchdown that sealed the outcome.
"Coach trusted me on that final play and I put it up there for my sophomore receiver, who made a great play," said Hoffman, who sparkled on a 12-of-20, no-interception, 266-yard night.
Clovis West (1-3) entered with just five wins in its past 20 games over two-plus seasons since winning the Division I title in 2010.
And the Golden Eagles appeared to be in trouble early as Bullard (3-1) drove down to the Clovis West 1-yard line on its opening possession before Caleb Kelly stopped Isaiah Justice short on fourth-and-goal. It was one of three fourth-down stops for Clovis West, which also got boosts from an Andrew Salazar fumble recovery and an Andre Chachere interception that thwarted potential scoring drives by the Knights.
"We finally came together as a team," said Chachere, who also caught six passes for 140 yards, including a 27-yard second-quarter touchdown before departing with leg cramps. "The defense was flying around and offensively we put the pieces together."
After a fumble at the Bullard 15 prevented the Eagles from scoring on their first possession, they broke through on their second with the first of Marrone's field goals.
Clovis West extended the lead to 17-0 by halftime on Chachere's touchdown reception and another by Marcus Crouch.
"Last week was tough. I just didn't show up," said Hoffman, who threw three interceptions in a 40-14 loss to Crespi-Encino. "But tonight, no turnovers, I put the ball where my receivers could make plays and obviously they made great plays on the ball."
Bullard rallied in the second half, getting a 1-yard touchdown run from Justice and a 5-yard scoring run from Dejonte Oneal. But the Knights couldn't get Clovis West off the field in the last 4:12 despite having all three of their timeouts.
The Eagles now advance to the toughest portion of their local schedule, playing at top-ranked Edison next week and against No. 3 Clovis North on Oct. 11.
"I think this will help us against Edison," said Chachere, a San Jose State commit. "This will boost our confidence."
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6103, firstname.lastname@example.org or @NickG_FB on Twitter.