There’s an adage in sports that says “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish” and no where did that ring truer than at McCarl Field in Williams last Friday night as the Yellowjackets overcame a disastrous start to dismantle the visiting Durham Trojans 52-21.
Generating offense has been a struggle for the Yellowjackets in their first two games this season, but such was not the case in their home opener as they amassed 575 yards to defeat Durham for the first time since the two squads resumed playing each other in 2015.
However at the outset, it looked grim for the ‘Jackets as they fumbled away their first possession then saw Durham march virtually unimpeded down the field to capitalize for the game’s first points.
And it was more of the same for Williams as on the ensuing kickoff they fumbled once again, but the ’Jacket defense rose to the occasion forcing Durham to turn the ball over on downs.
From their own 29 yard line, the ‘Jackets needed just three plays to get on the board as quarterback Mo Hernandez eluded the rush to hit Sam Navarro, who then cut back across the field and raced 70 yards to the end zone with 5:47 remaining in the period.
After Hernandez tacked on the two-point conversion, the Jackets’ took their first lead, but it was to be short lived as the Trojans responded with a nine play 52-yard drive to go back on top 13-8 as the first quarter drew to a close.
Ultimately however, it would be the second quarter that turned the tide of the game as the ’Jackets erupted for 28 points.
It was a long pass from Hernandez to Aldo Ambriz that sparked the barrage of scoring by the Yellowjackets, as it set up a one yard Jesus Jauregui plunge into the end zone with just under nine minutes remaining until half.
When Jauregui recovered a Durham fumble on the ensuing series, Hernandez then connected again with Navarro who evaded tacklers and out ran the defense, this time from 55 yards out for his second touchdown of the night.
Durham then answered with a 53-yard touchdown run of their own, cutting the deficit to just one at 22-21, but the ‘Jackets tacked on two more scores in just a minute’s time as Hernandez hit Ambriz for a 47-yard touchdown ahead of a great defensive play by Angel Juarez who scooped up a fumble and ran it back 38 yards to give the Yellowjackets a 36-21 advantage with 3:43 remaining in the half.
While the Trojans attempted a response via the pass, Juarez was having none of it; recording back-to-back sacks for a total loss of 16 yards and extinguishing any chance Durham had of getting points back.
In the second half, while the defense shutout the Trojans, Williams added to its total early in the fourth quarter when Hernandez hit Ambriz in stride on a 52-yard scoring strike.
Hernandez turned in his best effort of the season against the Trojans completing 17 of 27 passes for 375 yards and three touchdowns, which is exactly what Coach Jeff Lemus expected from his quarterback.
“Mo played impressively tonight. We challenged him all week and he responded. If he can do that all year we’ll be in good shape,” Lemus said.
What was also quite evident by the game’s conclusion was that the speed of the ‘Jacket receivers created a huge problem for the opposing defense given that Ambriz finished with seven catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns while Navarro had a pair of scores as part of his five reception 140 yard performance.
It was the Yellowjacket defense that capped the scoring for the night after Isaac Vaca intercepted a pass and returned it five yards for the game’s final points.
Williams also got big contributions defensively from Gustavo Leos who had a team high nine tackles while Jauregui made seven and Alan Martinez had two interceptions to go along with six tackles.
With two wins under their belt, the Yellowjackets (2-1) plan to hit it hard in practice this week and look to carry their momentum into Gregg LeMaster Field in Arbuckle on Friday in the 89th annual Rice Bowl against county rival Pierce.