HANFORD – Sometimes, one play can turn the tide in a football game.
That play Friday night didn't go Sierra Pacific's way.
With the Golden Bears appearing on their way to a massive comeback with momentum on their side, a potential Sierra Pacific touchdown was waved off that would have pulled them to within a score of Riverdale.
Instead, the Cowboys took over and just five minutes later, Sierra Pacific found itself down 21 points with no momentum whatsoever.
After that play, Riverdale held off Sierra Pacific for a 35-14 win at the Neighbor Bowl.
With Sierra Pacific trailing 21-7 late in the fourth quarter, Sierra Pacific's offense begun to find its stride after going into the break trailing 21-0.
After storming down the field, Sierra Pacific faced a fourth down inside the Riverdale 20-yard-line.
Quarterback Will Springer threw to his left, finding Phillips Jackson on far side of the end zone between two defenders.
Jackson, however, was ruled out-of-bounds with Sierra Pacific turning the ball over.
Riverdale quickly moved down the field to score a touchdown of its own.
And on Springer's first pass of the ensuing drive, Ali Hussein returned an interception 60 yards for another touchdown.
Sierra Pacific head coach Dion Tate said he thought he had a good view of the play and fully believed Jackson was inbounds on the catch.
“From where I was, he looked in,” Tate said. “I'll go to my grave thinking he was in. That play just took the wind out of our sails. You could see that on the sideline. And that's on me as a coach. We have a young team, and I need to better prepare them for situations like that.”
It didn't help that Sierra Pacific fell behind early.
Cowboy running back JP Sanchez scored on a 32-yard run on Riverdale's first possession of the game, setting the tone for his teams offense that routinely converting on third down and in the goalline.
On three separate occasions, quarterback Mitch Maggini scored on quarterback keepers and routinely got three to four yards per sneek.
Trailing 21-0 at the half, Sierra Pacific turned away from the run and let Springer let loose with the Golden Bears quickly scoring to open the second half.
A 13-play drive culminated with Springer finding Deshaun Littlejohn from 11 yards out. The Golden Bears wouldn't score again until the final two minutes of the game, once it was already decided.
Matt Alfaro took it in on a 7-yard run.
With the loss, Sierra Pacific falls to 1-2 on the season and will now turn its attention to cross-city rival Hanford West in the second annual Battle of the Claws game.
Tate wants the Golden Bears to continue to improve.
“When we look back at the season, I want us to be able to say the Riverdale game was our worst,” he said. “So far, it was our worst game.”