HANFORD — Chad Leslie and Gavin Gamble connected plenty of times on the field on Friday, but had four big moments in all. The quarterback and wide receiver hooked up for four first-half touchdowns and helped lead Sierra Pacific to a 45-12 victory in the Fourth Annual Clash of the Claws at the Neighbor Bowl on Friday.
“Man everything was just clicking today,” Gamble said. “I’m just glad we got that dub. We just got to build off of it and keep winning the rest of the year.”
The victory was the Golden Bears’ first of the season and their second consecutive victory in the Clash of the Claws series. The series is now tied 2-2.
“Everybody saw the real SP tonight,” Sierra Pacific coach Dion Tate said. “We just want to serve notice to the league that when they play us they got to be able to run with us. Everybody get your track shoes out.”
Gamble caught eight passes for 171 yards and four touchdowns. Leslie had only six incompletions and was 12-of-18 for 209 yards with all four touchdown passes going to Gamble and one interception.
“I’m gonna remember this game for the rest of my life,” Gamble said.
Adam Antuna led the ground attack with 13 carries for 62 yards and Leslie helped pace the running game with 59 yards on the ground. The Golden Bears had a season-high 214 rushing yards after failing to crack the 100-yard mark in either of their first two games.
After Sierra Pacific (1-2) won the coin toss and elected to receive, a big return set them up at Hanford West’s 26-yard line. It took only four plays for Leslie to find Gamble with an 11-yard pass over the middle of the field for a 7-0 lead.
“We wanted to come out slinging the ball and Hanford West was the best team for us to do that against because they’re speedy,” Tate said.
After the Golden Bears’ defense forced a turnover on downs, Leslie found a streaking Gamble down the sideline for a 35-yard touchdown pass.
You have free articles remaining.
“I feel like me and Gavin are always clicking, especially with our line today,” Leslie said. “I had time to make my reads and it just worked out that Gavin was in the right spaces and we got those touchdowns.”
The duo connected on a 29-yard touchdown pass for their third score of the first quarter. It capped a 9-play, 58-yard drive and the Golden Bears led 21-0 at the end of the first.
“We noticed those deep balls are open with the cover zero they’ve been running, so we’ve been throwing over the top and they weren’t able to stop our receivers,” Leslie said.
Their fourth and final hookup was arguably the best of the night. On third-and-seven from the Huskies’ 20, Gamble took a swing pass, made a man miss and found a seam into the end zone.
“I just had to trust my quarterback and I knew he was going to get me the ball, so I just had to get open,” Gamble said.
Hanford West (1-3) struggled to start, but they found success on their third drive. Quarterback Damian Torres found running back Keantre Davis on third-and-11 and receiver William Rodas Jr. on fourth-and-six to keep the drive alive.
On fourth-and-two in Golden Bears’ territory, Davis took a handoff 22 yards for a touchdown. The 11-play, 61-yard drive was the Huskies’ best of the night. Juan Valdovinos hauled in the team’s other score on a 17-yard pass in the third quarter.
“Overall I think we played hard the second half,” Hanford West coach Matthew Tesoriere said. “I think execution was a little bit better at times, specifically on the defensive side of the ball.”
The Golden Bears led 35-6 at halftime, 42-12 after the third and had other scores from Jason Harris, Antuna and a 27-yard field goal by Blake Peters.
Sierra Pacific will face Coalinga (1-3) at home on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Golden Bears defeated the Horned Toads last season 9-6. Hanford West has a bye week before facing San Luis Obispo (2-1) at the Neighbor Bowl on Aug. 27. The Tigers defeated the Huskies 74-36 last year.