The Dolores homecoming game against the Center Vikings was scoreless for the first 19 minutes and 29 seconds.
The two teams traded possessions and turnovers for the first quarter and most of the second until the Bears put together a 63-yard touchdown drive, capped off by a 1-yard Jalen Balderrama sneak to take a 6-0 lead.
It appeared that the score might hold into halftime, as Center regained possession at the Dolores 38-yard line with just 41 seconds remaining in the quarter.
However, the Vikings went 62 yards in just two plays and 20 seconds – on a 28-yard rush and a 34-yard pass – to even the score, then took a 7-6 lead into half after converting the extra point.
The pattern continued to start the second half with a scoreless third quarter. Then Center got into the red zone on a swing pass for a 40-yard gain, before punching it in to extend their lead to 14-6.
The Bears were hurt by their five turnovers on the night, with four interceptions and a fumble, but with seven minutes remaining, they had a final shot.
“There were a lot of turnovers and we had to try some different things to move the ball,” said head coach Chris Trusler.
“But even with all the interceptions we threw, our defense would go out and stop them and we kept getting opportunities to get the ball.”
Starting at their own 29-yard line, the Bears could manage only three yards before facing a fourth-down-and-seven with under five minutes left.
Hoping to extend the drive and get into a position to tie the game, Dolores went for it.
Balderrama dropped back and faced pressure, and as he scrambled away from the blitz he found Tristen Medina, who toed the sideline for a catch and a 25-yard gain to keep hope alive.
Trusler then called on fullback Tyln Yarbrough, who moved the pile for two consecutive five-yard gains and another first down.
But inside the Vikings’ 30-yard line, the Bears faced another fourth down – this time fourth-and-three – and Balderrama was stuffed on a draw, for a turnover-on-downs, allowing the Vikings to run out the clock and secure a 14-6 win.
“It’s a tough loss,” Trusler said following the game. “Especially on homecoming. But we couldn’t be more proud of the kids. They didn’t stop until the last whistle.”