With the stage set for arguably the most anticipated Victory Bell game – between an undefeated Tulare Union High and an unbeaten Tulare Western – many from the city seemed ecstatic to attend Friday’s game at Bob Mathias Stadium.
Not only did the winner clinch an undefeated regular season – it also handed its rival their first loss of the season for a double bonus.
And the triple bonus was capturing the East Yosemite League championship.
Tulare Western, which was considered the home team, filled the stands to maximum capacity.
Never miss a local story.
Tulare Union fans did the same, with many showing up well before the gates opened and forming a line that curved around parts of the stadium fences.
Both student sections were sold out.
And the overall crowd at Mathias Stadium capped around 5,900.
The game started off close with the Tribe and Mustangs exchanging a pair of touchdowns and tied 14-14 after one quarter.
But Tulare Union reeled off the next three touchdowns for a 35-14 halftime lead and won 62-41.
Tribe running back Kazmeir Allen, who entered the night leading the nation in scoring, racked up seven touchdowns to continue his blazing pace.
Tulare Western came as close as 49-33 with 25 seconds left in the third quarter.
But Tulare upped its lead once again to a three-possession advantage after Allen scored another touchdown with 9:30 left in the game.
Friday’s game was the 53rd annual Bell Game.
The game got its name from local Pepsi bottler D.I. “Dick” Gustave, who donated a bell recycled from a train.
For the longest time, the winning school would haul out the bell to its games and ring it after a victory. But that’s no longer the case.
The first Bell Game was played in 1965.