Clovis West High entered Joe Debely Stadium as if it were its home turf Friday night, showcasing a brand of confidence against underdog Turlock High that is typically reserved for champions.
The Golden Eagles backed up their swagger in the first half with three touchdowns and 208 total yards while they held the Bulldogs to one touchdown and 129 total yards, but the second half was a different story all together as Turlock orchestrated a comeback to be remembered in a 27-21 upset of Clovis West.
“After the way we started the first half I’m just real shocked right now. I’m just proud that we hung in there,” Turlock head coach James Peterson said. “It just shows me our potential and how far we can take our game. But when we elevate our game, I really feel like the sky’s the limit. For us to comeback on Clovis West tonight, man, I’m just impressed with our guys and the way they hung in there and kept their composure.”
Turlock turned the tide on the Golden Eagles by switching up its defensive scheme in the second half. The more aggressive defensive unit held Clovis West to only 13 second half yards and kept its offensive unit off of the scoreboard.
“We waited until the second half and switched our coverage. We did it on purpose and it worked out in our favor,” Peterson said.
Before the Bulldogs sunk their teeth into its offense, Clovis West dominated the first half with a pass game predicated on slants and routes across the middle of the field. The Golden Eagles opened the game with a 17-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by six yard touchdown scramble from quarterback Kordel Hoffman. Clovis West’s following touchdowns were scored roughly a minute apart in the second quarter, the first off an Austin Gregson 10-yard touchdown run and the second off a 19-yard touchdown pass to Caleb Kelly. Both were products of excellent field position.
Turlock scored its first touchdown of the night with one minute left in the first half when Andy Jennings hit the end zone from five yards out to cap an 18-play, 91-yard drive and make the score 7-21.
Turlock's true offensive spark came in the third quarter, however, when Jeffery Hines caught a Bubba Moreno pass and took it 31 yards to the 2 yard line. Moreno followed the big play with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Bear Padilla to make it 13-21 after a failed two-point conversion attempt.
But Hines wasn’t finished as he intercepted the ball on Clovis West’s ensuing drive only to score three plays later on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Moreno. After a successful two-point conversion the score was knotted at 21 with 7:39 left in regulation.
“I came up with the pick because I knew exactly where it was coming,” Hines said. “When we got that interception we were ready. Our whole crowd was pumped, the whole team was pumped. We were ready for this win and we came out and won it.”
“Jeffery Hines is one of our best players on our team, flat out,” Peterson said. “The guy’s got more heart, he works harder than anybody. He’s the last guy on the field every night and he’s constantly working on his game. So I’m just proud of him, just the fact that he’s having the success that he’s worked hard for.”
Clovis West responded to Turlock’s comeback by crumbling as its offense ran only seven more plays for negative yardage and allowing the go ahead score, a two-yard touchdown pass to Padilla, with less than two minutes remaining.
“Clovis is a great team and I think that we’re a great team, too,” Peterson said.
Hines finished with 55 yards and one touchdown. Moreno threw for 125 yards—114 of which came in the second half—and two touchdowns while also rushing for 58 yards. Andre Lopez also ran for significant yardage, recording 64 yards as the team’s workhorse for the majority of the night.
“This is a big, big win, especially when we’re the underdogs. We came out hard to win this game. It’s a very big win,” Hines said.
With the win, Turlock advances 2-1 with longtime rival Modesto High slated for next week’s game.