FRESNO – As temperatures rose through the day, so did the drama during the Lemoore football team's game against San Joaquin Memorial on Friday.
After falling behind 20-0 after the first quarter, a Tigers rally came up just short in a matchup where the temperature was only eclipsed by the total points scored as Memorial held on for a 53-46 nonleague win.
Memorial receiver Jalen McMillan and quarterback Alec Trujillo connected for touchdowns six times and McMillan finished with one of the top receiving performances in Central Section history.
When it was all said and done, the sophomore had 12 catches for 367 yards. During that first quarter, he had four catches for 206 yards and touchdown catches of 55, 80 and 69 yards.
Trujillo would finish the game 20-for-23 with 503 yards passing.
With it being hot all week, Lemoore head coach Rene Asencio said the team changed its schedule so players weren't practicing during the hottest portion of the day.
Instead of having practices at its normal time just after school let out, Asencio said the team would wait until later in the night to practice, starting at around 7 p.m. and going late.
“We tried to make sure guys stay hydrated,” Asencio said.
To go along with late practice times, school administrators also pushed the start times of Friday's games back. Instead of games starting at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., the junior varsity game started at 6 p.m. with varsity following. The junior varsity game was also cut from 10 minute quarters to eight.
During the varsity game, that didn't stop both teams from having a slew of players from going down with cramps.
With Lemoore's roster being deeper than Memorials, it appeared like Lemoore was on its way to making a furious comeback after the Panthers scored three long touchdowns in the first quarter from McMilan.
“The heat took its toll,” Asencio said. “But it took its toll on both teams.”
After Memorial slowing down, Lemoore pulled to within a score multiple teams.
After McMilan's third touchdown, Lemoore's Amier Hollis opened the second quarter with a kickoff return for a touchdown. After a defensive stop, Lemoore's Damion Charleston capped a Lemoore drive with a 16-yard touchdown run to make it 20-14.
From there, Memorial and Lemoore traded touchdowns in a high-scoring affair.
Charleston's 8-yard touchdown run with 37 seconds left in the second quarter pulled Lemoore to within nine at 34-25 but Memorial was able to stay ahead the rest of the way.
McMillan scored the first two touchdowns of the third quarter to make it 47-25. Hollis returned another kickoff for a touchdown but Memorial quickly answered with McMilan's sixth touchdown.
The Tigers got two fourth quarter touchdowns by Brandon Hargrove making the score 53-46 with 3:53 left, but the Panthers were able to run out the clock with the Tigers not being able to get a stop on defense to get one last chance on offense.
For the Tigers, Hargrove had seven carries for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Charleston had 13 carries for 63 yards and two touchdowns.
On the ground, Memorial was led by Leonard Glass, the Hanford High transfer who finished with 22 carries for 182 yards and two touchdowns.
Asencio said he was happy with how the team didn't give up after giving up the first 20 points of the game.
He also liked the team's improvement on offense after its first game when the team scored just 12 points and had just over 100 yards of offense.
“The offense moved the ball well and we got some help with those kickoff returns,” Asencio said. “If you told me we'd score 46 points and lose, I wouldn't have believed you.”