The Clovis High football team lived up to its overall No. 1 Central Section ranking Friday night, forcing two Paso Robles turnovers in the final five minutes to secure a 27-24 season-opening victory on the coast.
Quarterback Sean Kuenzinger, who went 3-0 as a varsity starter last year as a junior, threw four touchdown passes for the Cougars – connecting twice in the first half with receiver J.J. Wills, from 27 and 38 yards, as Clovis took a 13-10 lead into halftime.
The second half went back and forth as Paso Robles – coming off a 13-2 season in which it captured a Southern Section Division III title – stayed in it behind bruising running back Christian Erickson. After scoring on a 27-yard run in the first quarter, his 7-yard run in the third put the Bearcats up 17-13.
Clovis, ranked 29th in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, answered with a 9-yard TD pass from Kuenzinger to Coltin Velasquez that made it 20-17, but Erickson punched in his third touchdown from 4 yards out to put Paso Robles back in front 24-20 with 6:48 left in the game.
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But Kuenzinger and Velasquez weren’t finished, and the receiver hauled in a 29-yard TD pass with 5:45 to play for a 27-24 lead.
Jared Pereira picked off a Paso Robles pass to put the Cougars in position to run out the clock, but they couldn’t convert on a third-and-19. The ensuing punt was fumbled by Paso Robles, however, and Josh Hokit fell on it to finish it off for Clovis.
Charles Williams, celebrating his 17th birthday, rushed 18 times for 249 yards and four touchdowns, and also caught a 38-yard TD, as the Knights delivered another rout in the annual Battle of Barstow game. The senior’s scoring runs measured 67, 59, 11 and 38 yards.
Bullard has scored more than 50 points in five consecutive games against the Patriots, and has also won the past 14 straight in a series that will not continue, officials from both schools said Saturday.
Sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez, in a rousing varsity debut after powering the Golden Eagles junior varsity to a 9-1 record last year, completed 20 of 28 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 98 yards and two more scores.
“Their quarterback is pretty dang good,” Merced coach and Dos Palos graduate Rob Scheidt told the Merced Sun Star. “He’s Colin Kaepernick in college, not high school.”
Martinez, at 6-2, 185, delivered the play of the game with his team leading 21-14 in the third quarter.
Clovis West faced third-and-20 when he popped a 49-yard run, setting up his 1-yard touchdown.
Another key play had yet another outstanding athlete in the Eagles’ stocked sophomore class, cornerback Tykee Woods, intercept a Bears pass in the end zone late in the first half, preserving a 21-14 lead.
Clovis West’s two major-college recruits, Caleb Kelly (12-yard run) and Darian Owens (50-yard run), each scored.
Lions quarterback Christian Haffner scrambled for 76 yards on 13 carries and opened the scoring with a 10-yard run as host Liberty-Brentwood ran away from the Grizzlies.
Isiah O’Neal leveled the score on a 29-yard strike from Nick Szpor but Central couldn’t keep up with the Lions, who climbed to a two-touchdown lead after three quarters and opened the fourth with a safety. Szpor was 10 of 22 passing for 129 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Luis Pelayo drilled a 21-yard field goal with 2:01 to play as Memorial edged visiting Washington.
Michael Alvarez punched in a touchdown from 7 yards in the second quarter that up Memorial in front 7-0.
Washington tied just before halftime it on a 27-yard touchdown catch by Carlos Silva from Noah Beukers.
Memorial, despite not capitalizing on two lost Washington fumbles in the second half and having a late 45-yard passing touchdown erased by an ineligible man downfield penalty, eventually sealed the game on Pelayo’s field goal.
Isaiah Hilliard never let off the gas for the Apaches, rushing 18 times for 148 yards and three touchdowns to stomp the visiting Rangers at Tom Flores Stadium.
Hilliard, who averaged 5.2 yards per carry, scored from 1, 2 and 3 yards.
Redwood’s Justin Williams broke loose for a 68-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. He led the Rangers with 108 yards rushing on nine carries.
Lee Major scored on a 26-yard pass from Khory Day, and returned a fumble (16 yards) and an interception (86 yards) for touchdowns as the Warriors won in the return of coach Ray Reyes.
Nyric Hinton also had three touchdowns for Fresno on runs of 23, 48 and 6 yards, part of a 16-carry, 161-yard performance.
Quarterback Sean Chambers ran for 6- and 9-yard touchdowns to rally the visiting Lions to a 38-28 come-from-behind win over the Bears.
Chambers, who finished with 142 yards rushing on 15 carries, extended Kerman’s lead to double digits in the fourth quarter with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Mason Layton. Chambers completed 11 of 17 throws for 143 yards.
Selma quarterback Henry Ramirez threw for one touchdown and ran in two more.
Miguel Wharton powered the Golden Bears on both sides of the ball to a demolition of the host Panthers, scoring five touchdowns: two rushing, and also via a punt return, a kickoff return, and an interception return.
The Pioneers went ahead in the fourth quarter on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Isaiah Salazar to Nate Aleman to down the visiting Rams at Mineral King Bowl.
Salazar later added a 3-yard score for Mt. Whitney, which sealed the victory with two interceptions in the closing minutes.
Garces scored on a 51-yard run by quarterback Conor Druze, who also went 9 of 24 for 167 yards passing with two interceptions.
Aaron Daggs, a transfer from Immanuel, passed for four touchdowns in his Cavaliers debut, leading the way to an easy victory.
The second of three Daggs’ touchdown passes to Collin Stockton put CVC ahead to stay in the first quarter. The duo combined for scores of 12, 13 and 28 yards, while Daggs also connected with Steve Van Grouw for a 23-yard touchdown.
Stockton finished with 138 rushing and 53 receiving.
Kyle Dunigan scored three touchdowns as the Eagles jumped out to a 24-0 lead and coasted past the Broncos.
Dunigan scored on runs of 8, 4 and 2 yards.
Immanuel quarterback Caleb Paulson passed for 200 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown to Chris Rosdale that essentially put away the game in the fourth quarter.
Alex Gutierrez scored on runs of 8, 3 and 37 yards as the Redskins opened a 28-6 lead and never looked back against the Stallions.
Chowchilla also received two touchdowns from Anthony Stewart, an 8-yard run and a 10-yard pass from Ryan Selby.