Photo by Nick Baker – Clovis West (3-2) quarterback Adrian Martinez reaches out past the front of the end zone on his 7-yard touchdown run in the Eagles 31-27 win over Bullard on September 23. Martinez also threw three touchdowns.
By Paul Meadors | Sports Editor
This time, it was Clovis West’s turn to finish a game strong.
A week after reeling from the sting of losing a fourth quarter lead and falling at Rocklin HIgh, it was a host of Golden Eagles who turned in key plays in a punch, counter-punch game against Fresno Unified nemesis Bullard in their 31-27 win, highlighted by a final touchdown from one likely source to the most unlikely.
With five minutes left in the game and facing a third-and-7 from Bullard’s 16-yard line and down 24-27, quarterback Adrian Martinez lofted a perfect pass into the waiting arms of streaking Chad Day down the right side for the game clinching score.
The likely source, of course, is the sensational Martinez, calm and collected quarterback who threw for three touchdowns, 260 yards and added a 7-yard touchdown run.
And the unlikely recipient was Day, the junior receiver seeing his first action of the season on offense, catching two touchdowns in the game, the second one like he’s done it a million times before.
Hard work and effort in practice alerted the Clovis West coaches to give Day a chance – and he responded in a big way.
What was going through Day’s mind during the play?
“Just let me make a play for my team,” Day said before adding that he felt really comfortable in the game by that time.
The play was set up by an interception on a tipped ball from Tykee Woods with 6:13 left in the fourth quarter on Bullard’s 19-yard line.
“We could be 5-0 right now if we could finish and tonight we finished,” said Martinez, who called Day “Big Play Chad Day” while celebrating with teammates after the win. “I told our guys at halftime that we need to finish and we did it. We needed this win.”
And that giant exhale you heard when the clock read 0:00 was from the Clovis West side, as the Eagles beat a Bullard team that beat them twice last season, including the D-1 Central Section playoffs.
“I’m so proud of the boys – it’s a great win,” said head coach George Petrissans, whose team improved to 3-2 on the year. “They’re great kids, every single one of them.”
Petrissans, in this third year at Clovis West, praised the play of Martinez (“tremendous player”), Rodney Wright Jr. (“always steps up”), Nick Coleman, Junior Rodriguez and Day (“I’m really proud of him”).
After a lackluster first half that saw Bullard score on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jack Taylor to Daylan Zarate with 42.5 seconds left and a 14-10 lead, the second half became fast and furious.
Martinez found Jayden Helms in the corner of the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown pass with 3:58 in the third followed by by a Bullard 38-yard touchdown pass from Taylor (who threw four in the game) to Parker Jacobs with 2:22 left.
A Martinez 7-yard touchdown run was countered by another touchdown pass from Taylor for a 27-24 lead with 11:30 left in the fourth, setting up the Martinez to Day game-winner and a momentum-swinging game for Clovis West, the talented squad full of young players still learning what it takes to dig deep and finish games.
“I always have faith in my team and we made it happen,” said Martinez, who currently holds six Division 1 offers including PAC-12 schools Cal and Oregon State. “(This game) sends a message to ourselves that we are the team we thought we are and are going to be the rest of the season.”