A very emotional San Joaquin Memorial High football team was thinking of offensive coordinator Joseph Pierro in the second half Friday night.
Mac Dalena scored the go-ahead touchdown with 3:23 left and batted down a pass near the end zone with 43 seconds left to help thwart a drive as The Bee’s 13th-ranked Panthers defeated No. 7 Clovis East 20-17 at Lamonica Stadium.
At halftime, Pierro received a phone call that his wife, Taneia, had been placed on life support. She died Saturday, Sept. 21. She was 40.
“We had to regroup,” Panthers coach Anthony Goston said. “It was a battle all week and we didn’t know what was going on. It was in the back of our head as coaches that was going on. It kind of puts in perspective what life is about. Football is great and we won the game, but there were more important things. It’s sad for our family right now. A win is great, but we gotta mourn a little bit.”
Goston said Taneia Pierro had been hospitalized since Wednesday.
Joseph Pierro, who is in his first season at Memorial, had been away from practice to be with his wife but was coaching Friday night.
Until he got the phone call.
Details of her illness were not immediately known.
Memorial trailed 14-7 at halftime.
Dalena, who scored two touchdowns, said the team learned about Pierro’s wife’s condition at halftime.
“We came together as a team,” Dalena said. “We did it for her and the family.”
Bullard holds off Clovis West
No. 3 Bullard has won three straight after a 26-13 victory over No. 9 Clovis West at McLane Stadium on Thursday. The Golden Eagles dropped to 2-3.
The Knights took the lead for good on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Bryce Weiner to Diazon Allen with 2:46 left in the third quarter. Bullard increased its lead after a Weiner touchdown pass to DeAndre Greeley in the fourth quarter.
Bullard improved to 3-1 under co-head coaches Don Arax and Yosef Fares. After the game, Fares was greeted by his biggest fan – his young daughter who ran to him on the field with Fares’ wife close by.
The video, taken by Fares’ father, has been viewed more than 25,000 times on Twitter after he posted it Thursday night.
Division I playoff shuffle
Before league seasons commence there’s an opportunity for Central Section teams to make postseason statements, especially in Division I.
Bullard’s only loss is to No. 2 Buchanan, and the Knights have beaten No. 4 Clovis, so they’re on a good postseason trajectory.
No. 1 Central is 5-0 after beating Turlock 41-13, but it’s hard to gauge the Grizzlies: They’re winning by an average score of 44-10 against opponents (including three from the Sac-Joaquin Section) that are a combined 9-15.
Better gauge: After a bye, Central plays Buchanan in the Tri-River Athletic Conference opener on Oct. 3.
Liberty-Bakersfield, which tumbled two spots to No. 5 after last week’s 19-17 loss to Buchanan, rebounded with a 43-34 win over Clovis.
And No. 20 Clovis North reached 5-0 with a 41-27 win over No. 14 Ridgeview in a battle of D-1s.
Another shot at De La Salle
Buchanan held De La Salle-Concord to just seven points through the final three quarters, including a shutout in the second half.
But the Bears allowed four touchdowns in the first quarter alone and lost 35-0 on the road against the perennial state powerhouse.
De La Salle (4-1, with its loss to a Florida team) scored touchdowns on its first four possessions, including a 15-yard run and a 45-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Dorian Hale for the first two TDs.
Buchanan (3-2) lost to De La Salle for the second straight. Last year, the Bears fell 31-24 in Clovis.
Edison goes OT for first win
Edison picked up its first win of the season, edging No. 25 Dinuba 35-27 in overtime. The Tigers’ Dezjhon Malone, a Fresno State commit, scored in the second extra period and Tre Martin ended the game with an interception.
The Tigers had gotten off to an 0-4 start after playing teams that were all ranked in The Bee’s Top 25, losing to the likes of current No. 1 Central, No. 9 Clovis West, No. 2 Buchanan and No. 20 Clovis North.
Anthony Galaviz: 559-441-6042, agalaviz_TheBee