In what should have been an away game for Hilmar High, the Sonora Wildcats came to town and left with a come-from-behind, 36-35, win.
The game was scheduled to be played in Sonora, however, the Butte Fire forced a home game for the Yellowjackets. The comeback victory felt familiar for the Wildcats, as they repeated what they had done last year to Hilmar when they came back for a victory after a 17-0 deficit at the half in last season.
“We expected to go out there and have a tough game,” said Hilmar's Cody Rentfro. “In the second half we got our hopes up and started celebrating, we got too cocky I guess.”
Sonora opened the game on an eight-play touchdown drive but stayed silent the rest of the first half.
Alex Chavez scored from a huge pass play by quarterback Daniel Texeira for 80 yards to tie the game at seven with 3:45 left in the first quarter.
Shortly after, the Wildcats fumbled the ball on Hilmar’s 16-yard line to end the first quarter and put the ‘Jackets on the other side of the field to start the second quarter. Rentfro capitalized on this opportunity with a handoff and ran for an 86-yard touchdown.
Rentfro ran for another huge play in the first half with 1:50 left in the second quarter with a 60-yard touchdown run. He totaled 9 carries and 165 yards in the nightcap.
The first half closed out with a 28-7 Hilmar lead from Josh Jenning’s 80-yard run before Sonora came to life in the second half.
The spark for the Wildcats came from Nate Gookin’s touchdown when he found a hole straight up the middle with 6:39 left in the third quarter, but a hard hit to Rentfro took him out of the game shortly after with what is believed to be a concussion.
“We’re just waiting to see how it goes,” said Mark Santos, Hilmar assistant coach.
Sonora’s pitch to Wyatt Faughnan with :20 left in the third, followed by a two-point conversion inched the Wildcats closer to the 'Jackets, and Gookin’s 86-yard touchdown tied the game in the fourth quarter with 3:45 left to go.
Texeira threw to Brandon Almeida for a Yellowjacket first down, followed by another huge pass to Chavez for a 57-yard touchdown.
But the Wildcats answered back with two big running plays and a two-point conversion to give them the lead and a final score of 35-36.
“We played well; we just had a couple injuries there at the end. Guys started cramping up, guys were getting hurt and the ball just didn’t bounce our way,” said Santos. “We were right there, just a couple missed tackles, missed assignments—small things that are fixable.”
The Yellowjackets will take on Brookside Christian at 7 p.m. in Stockton next week.