Hilmar High remains winless at home after Fresno High spoiled the Yellowjackets’ homecoming celebrations with a 24-21 victory at McSweeney Field Friday night.
For the second week in a row, Hilmar fell just three points shy of victory as a second-half comeback failed to materialize. Hilmar is now 1-3 in pre-league play, having lost three consecutive games for the first time since the 2012 season.
“We’re just not making the plays when we have to. When we need a big stop, when we need something to happen; it’s not happening,” Hilmar head coach Frank Marques said. “Instead of finding ways to win, we’re finding ways not to win. So we've just got to get rid of that bump. We've got to get some of that magic back.”
The ‘Jackets scored on their first drive of the night as they covered 75 yards in 16 plays. Brett Pacheco capped the possession with a 6-yard touchdown run, giving Hilmar a 6-0 lead following a blocked PAT.
Hilmar’s offense stalled for the remainder of the first half, however. And after allowing Fresno to take a 7-6 in just five plays, the ‘Jacket defense found itself playing from the trail position for the remainder of the night.
The Warriors scored once more before halftime as they hit Hilmar with a steady dose of Wesley Graves and Mikel Quitoriano, who rushed through a porous defensive front.
“We’re trying to get these kids at a level where we know they can play. It’s our job as coaches to make them perform,” Marques said.
After a Fresno field goal split the uprights from 33 yards out in the final seconds of the third quarter, Hilmar began its second-half resurgence with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Jonathan O’Brien to Hudson Harris to make it 15-17 after a successful two-point conversion. The Warriors again extended their lead when Matt Stutte found pay dirt from four yards out, but Hilmar closed the gap as O’Brien scored his second touchdown, this time on the ground, on an 11-yard run.
The scoreboard read 20-24 with 6:47 left in regulation.
Hilmar’s defense followed the score with a four and out, forcing Fresno to punt. The ‘Jackets offense then drove the ball from their 20-yard line down to Fresno’s 28-yard line where they were faced with a fourth and one situation. With its kicker suffering from a bruised foot, Hilmar’s only chance at victory was to convert. Unfortunately, a Chris Souza dive up the middle was stuffed by the Warriors’ defense and Hilmar was handed its third consecutive loss.
“We were behind by 10. We battled back, came back and scored twice. We were driving the ball and were just a yard short on that fourth down. If we had converted there it would have been an interesting game,” Marques said. “The only chance we had was to go for it on fourth down.”
O’Brien finished the game with 197 yards and one touchdown through the air and 84 yards and one touchdown on the ground.
Hilmar totaled 276 yards of total offense—198 yards in the second half—while Fresno totaled 373 total yards of offense.
The ‘Jackets will next travel to Pacific Grove High for their week five matchup.
“We’re getting out of McSweeney Field. We’re undefeated away from here, we’re defeated here. So maybe we need to get out of here,” Marques said.