Jason Hunt was ready for anything, and when the hard-nosed leader was thrust into the limelight, he answered the call with flying colors.
Hunt, the junior starting safety listed at 6-foot, 190 pounds, was thrust into playing quarterback when senior Payton Mayer was forced to leave the game with a shoulder injury and threw two touchdowns, leading Clovis to a tough 17-13 win over Bullard at McLane High School.
“He’s a gamer,” said Cougars head coach Rich Hammond. “I thought he made big plays when we needed big plays.”
Relieving Mayer late in the first quarter, Hunt threw an 18-yard touchdown with 1:26 left the first to Matthew Sanchez to erase a 7-3 deficit, then executed a perfect pass to tight end Bubba Byrd, also an 18-yarder, with 3:35 left in the third quarter to increase the lead to 17-7.
“I’ve been waiting for that moment and it came and I took it,” said Hunt after the game.
But, don’t think Hunt doesn’t have any game experience at the quarterback position – he started on JV last season and was in a battle with Mayer during the summer.
“I was proud of him, he gets one opportunity to do it and he got it done,” said Hammond of Hunt whose twin brother, Josh, is a starting linebacker. “When you’re a backup you don’t get a bunch of reps – I was really proud of him and how he played in general.”
But, Bullard (0-3) never folded behind the strong running of Marcus Fulcher. The junior showed speed and power all game long, rushing for 199 yards on 32 carries and two touchdowns, his second a 32-yard burst on 4th-and-1 with 3:08 left in the game.
After Bullard’s fumbled the extra point attempt the Knights then forced Clovis (2-1) to punt with 1:47 left in the game, starting their final drive on their own 39 yard line with no time outs and needing a touchdown to take the lead.
Behind Fulcher and quarterback Isaiah Robles, the Knights drove the field and had a final shot with no time on the clock from the 14-yard line after a defensive pass interference.
However, Robles’ pass was batted down by the Clovis secondary in the end zone, setting off a Cougar celebration.
— Paul Meadors (@paulmeadors) September 9, 2017
“Our defense has been terrific, and for them to finish the game the way they did was apropos, getting the stop for us to win,” said Hammond. “Those guys are playing great, we need them to continue to play great.”
Clovis’ Cole Roberts had 24 carries for 132 yards and Nick Delgado and Christian Loera had interceptions.
Corey Arcelus kicked a 30-yard field goal for a 3-0 and and punted well all game, forcing Bullard to start with poor field position.
Hammond praised Arcelus’ mental approach this week after having an extra point blocked that would have tied the game late in the fourth quarter in last week’s 14-13 loss to Turlock.
Clovis takes on Stockdale Sept. 15 at Lamonica Stadium.