Bears season opener spoiled by visiting Narbonne

Kendall Milton rounds the corner on his way to the endzone in the Buchanan Bears 32-7 home loss to Narbonne in the season opener. Milton had 133 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. MICHEAL FORD/CLOVIS ROUNDUP

The Buchanan High football team will have to wait another week to get its first win in the Bears quest to return to the Central Section playoffs.

The Bears fell to the Narbonne High Gauchos 32-7 Saturday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium in the teams’ season opener, which was broadcast nationally on ESPNU.

Bear Nation came into the game riding high, excited to get the season started, and for a while, the excitement was met with reciprocal effort and results from the team on the field.

As expected, Buchanan relied heavily on its star running back and recent University of Georgia commit Kendall Milton.

Milton toted the ball 27 times for 133 yards and a touchdown, which came on the Bears first drive of the game. Milton carried the ball around the outside corner of the defense down the sideline and into the endzone from 15 yards out.

Narbonne answered on its subsequent possession, marching 69 yards down the field before an eight yard touchdown pass from Jacob Garcia to Elijah Queen. A failed extra point attempt meant the game would head into the second quarter with Buchanan ahead 7-6.

Narbonne took advantage of the Bears’ mistakes in the second quarter, including capitalizing on a missed field goal, by methodically driving the ball 85 yards down the field, finishing the drive with a 27-yard touchdown strike through the air on a broken play where the Buchanan defensive back lost track of the receiver as Garcia scrambled out of the pocket to his left.

Another Narbonne failed extra point meant the game went to half time with the Gauchos leading 12-7.

From then on, the Bears second half can best be described as one of lost opportunities.

Bears defensive back CJ Jones gave his team great field position by picking off a Garcia pass at the 49 yard line. But the home team failed to make the best of the opportunity and instead turned the ball over on downs.

With the game still in reach, head coach Matt Giordano said he felt that not cashing in on prime chances was a big factor in the Bears’ inability to seize control of a game that was there for the taking.

“It’s a big deal, and a learning lesson,” Giordano said. “You have to capitalize on turnovers. We have to learn from this. These 10 games are about learning experiences until we get to the playoffs.”

Narbonne closed out the night with three consecutive scores, sending the Bears faithful home without the victory they so coveted.

Despite the lopsided defeat, Milton said there were positives to take away from the game.

“It just shows what we are capable of,” Milton said. “We are capable of moving the ball against a top team in the country. Our team went in the right direction…”

The Bears (0-1) will look to rebound Aug. 30 at home against a Bullard team that is yet to start its season.

Michael Ford
Michael graduated from Fresno State in May 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in print journalism. During his time at the university, he served as sports and managing editor for The Collegian, Fresno State’s student-run newspaper. In addition to the Clovis Roundup, Michael has written for The Fresno Bee, the Kingsburg Recorder and Selma Enterprise. He has a passion for sports and can be found on the sidelines at local games, bringing the citizens of Clovis the athletics news they deserve.