The visitors' stands erupted for the Hilmar Yellowjackets after Friday night’s contest ended between Hilmar and Hughson High in what turned out to be one of the most exciting Trans Valley League games of the season, coming down to the final play.
The game opened with Cody Rentfro’s first force fumble of the night after Hughson’s first play.
This provided an idea of what the Huskies of Hughson would be dealing with—a determined defense for Hilmar.
Hilmar was able to quiet Hughson’s run game all night long, but didn't stop the Huskies' from passing, Both sides were tied at 36-36 by the end of regulation, forcing overtime.
Hughson notched the first score on the opening play of overtime but missed the extra point.
Hilmar's Alex Chavez, who had an outstanding second half, was able to even the game at 42-42 after grabbing a 10-yard touchdown from Daniel Teixeira on a 3-and-10.
Yellowjacket sophomore Marcus Mouro, who failed to win the game with a game winning kick as time expired in regulation, found himself with a chance to end the game by making the extra point and he nailed it between the uprights, causing an uproar from the ‘Jackets sideline.
“I am speechless… we've got some tough dudes but I think we can make the playoffs knowing we can play like this, but it was a hard game,” said Rentfro after the win. “Ever since the beginning of the year we said finish and tonight we damn sure finished.”
“I have to thank my number one supporter, God, he gave me the strength and he gives me all the strength so I just needed to catch everything,” said Chavez, who caught 11 passes for 138 yards.
Hilmar also had to battle with the home field advantage as the officials called Hilmar for over 12 penalties in the first half alone as opposed to Hughson’s three [for the game].
“We kept our composure because we have a great group of kids and they believe in each other and that’s all it took,” said Hilmar head coach Frank Marques, whose team goes to 5-3 and 2-1 in the TVL. “It was an outstanding football game between two great communities and teams.”
As both sides were physically beating down on one another, it was Hilmar’s front seven that played their best game of the season.
They controlled the tempo of the game on the ground.
In fact, Hughson was held to only 208 yards of total offense in the first half — 72 and 63 yards coming from two short drives that led to broken pass plays from Hilmar and led to scoring drives.
“Our coaches had us watch a lot of film and they just put us through the work we needed to go through and every day we go hard on practice and we finished tonight,” said Hilmar defensive linemen Xavier Burke.
Hughson's Walter Fountain made it tough for Hilmar as he connected with Josh Duron and Justice Futch on various occasions making it difficult for the secondary to stop the Huskies in the air.
Luckily for Hilmar, one of them was a big play that would have resulted in a pick-six for Hughson but the ‘Jackets found the end zone to tie it at 36-36 after Rentfro notched the game tier at that point with a two-yard run after a 10 play drive with 4:15 left in regulation.
As time nearly expired, Hilmar marched down the field with just over a minute to Hughson’s 19-yard-line.
Hughson stopped Hilmar and Marcus Mouro was set for a 36-yard field goal attempt but after three timeouts from Hughson, Mouro missed it and forced overtime with a 36-36 score.
After Hughson scored their first play and missed the extra point, Hilmar was set with a chance to win it.
Hilmar was stopped on their first two plays but finally on the third down with 10 yards to go, Teixeria connected with Chavez on the corner of the end zone for a game tying score.
“Every play we played hard,” said right tackle Gabe Aguilar. “The last two weeks have been dog fights, but we came out as the bigger dog. We need to protect the guys behind us, we do everything for them, they give us credit but I can’t explain the feeling… just playoffs.”
As Mouro notched the extra point, everyone on Hughson’s side was stunned as they lost their second straight game in overtime.
“I believe in these kids and I believe in the program, it’s a great family win,” said Marques. “I knew we were going to score I was confident."
Rentfro finished the game with 24 carries, 100 yards and a touchdown on the ground and two forced fumbles.