From a stellar start to a flat finish.
That’s how Sanger High’s final game – as well as its entire season – played out.
After jumping to a 14-0 halftime lead Thursday, ninth-seeded Sanger allowed three unanswered touchdowns as No. 8 Bullard rallied for a 21-14 victory in the opening round of the Central Section Division I playoffs.
Knights quarterback Kalei Acfalle threw three touchdowns, all after halftime, including a game winner to Joshua Kelly with 39 seconds remaining to eliminate an Apaches team that a year ago reached a CIF State Championship Bowl.
Bullard celebrated with an amazing flip from one of its players.
Time and again this season, Sanger stumbled during critical stretches in an indication that last season’s magical ride would not be repeated.
The Apaches (8-3), under the direction of first-year coach Jorge Pena, did start this season winning five straight.
But as County/Metro Athletic Conference play got under way, Sanger lost to Bullard 27-6.
Closing the regular season, the Apaches lost their finale and missed a chance to finish as a co-league champion.
Sanger’s one-and-done playoff run would follow a similar course as the overall season.
Bullard (6-5), meanwhile, moves on to face top-seeded Central (9-1), which crushed the Knights 44-0 in a season opener.
Central Section D-I playoffs
First round Nov. 9
No. 6 Edison 20, No. 11 Clovis North 13
No. 7 Clovis 49, No. 10 Ridgeview 39
No. 8 Bullard 21, No. 9 Sanger 14
Quarterfinals Nov. 17
No. 8 Bullard at No. 1 Central
No. 4 Bakersfield at No. 4 Liberty
No. 6 Edison at No. 3 Buchanan
No. 7 Clovis at No. 2 Clovis West