Sanders’ Pick-six Clinches Third Straight Win for Clovis West

Head coach Eric Brown leads the Clovis West Golden Eagles onto the field against Bullard. Brown is now 3-1 in his first year at Clovis West. (Gabe Camarillo/Clovis Roundup)

With about four minutes left in halftime, the illuminating lights of Veterans Memorial Stadium were put out by lightning.

Two hours later, Markel Sanders put out Bullard’s hopes of a comeback with a 65-yard interception return touchdown with 3:59 remaining in the fourth quarter. Once trailing 14-0 late in the second quarter, Clovis West pulled off a comeback of their own, scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter to defeat Bullard, 35-28.

Sophomore quarterback Tyler Patrick threw two touchdown passes in the final quarter, a 48-yarder to sophomore Landon Wright and a 5-yarder to sophomore Jordan Pierro.

Once Clovis West jumped ahead 28-21 on Patrick’s scoring pass to Pierro, Sanders stepped in front of Bullard quarterback Roland Russo’s pass and returned it for the game-clinching score.

The Golden Eagles’ sideline mobbed Sanders after the play and a mostly-empty Veterans Memorial came alive. Clovis West supporters who waited out the 75-minute lightning delay watched their team extend its winning streak to three games.

But they sure had to wait a while.

Lightning struck near the stadium at halftime, causing the 10,00-seat stadium to go dark. Students and spectators were ordered onto the concourse to wait it out. The stadium lights came back on 20 minutes after going out, but lightning continued to be visible until about 9:30 p.m.

Officials met with administrators from both schools and determined a plan — wait until 10 p.m. and if lightning subsided for a 30-minute period, finish the game.

The plan worked. Both teams resumed the game shortly before 10 p.m., and Bullard received the 2nd half kickoff with a 14-7 lead.

Bullard opened the scoring in the second quarter when junior running back Jordan Stewart scored a 4-yard touchdown run. Clovis West punted on its next possession, and Bullard only needed three plays to drive 81 yards for its next score.

Russo connected with sophomore receiver Wendell Ware for a 73-yard completion, setting up Stewart’s second touchdown of the game from 3 yards out. Bullard took a 14-0 lead with 7:16 left in the second quarter.

Clovis West took over on its own 4-yard line with 1:22 left in the half. Junior quarterback Ryan Markarian marched the Golden Eagles 96 yards down the field and lasered a pass to Wright in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.

Markarian’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Wright came with one second left on the clock, cutting Bullard’s lead in half entering the break.

After an 83-minute halftime, Bullard fumbled on its second play of the drive and sophomore Clovis West cornerback Marshel Sanders recovered at Bullard’s 21-yard line.

Five plays later, Markarian ran in a 2-yard score to tie the game at 14 with 9:11 in the third quarter.

Scoring exploded on both sides in the 4th quarter. Patrick’s two touchdown passes sandwiched Stewart’s 6-yard scoring run that tied the game at 21. Russo added a nine-yard touchdown pass to Jayden Davis with nine seconds remaining to close the final gap to a touchdown.

Clovis West (3-1) travels to Turlock, while Bullard (1-3) hosts Clovis at McLane Stadium next week.

Gabriel Camarillo has written for the Clovis Roundup since August 2019 and follows high school athletics, Fresno State football and former Clovis Unified student-athletes. Gabe also writes for The Collegian as a staff sports writer and works at One Putt Broadcasting as a board op for 940 ESPN radio.