El Diamante and Tulare Union combine for 91 points as game comes down to final seconds
VISALIA – El Diamante and Tulare Union put on an exciting show in front of fans on Friday, Aug. 27, as the season opener will go down as a candidate for game of the year. Both teams combined for 91 points, but it was the Miners defense that got the stops when it mattered as they held the Tribe out of the end zone in the waning seconds to win 47-44.
Following a Tulare Union touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, El Diamante trailed 44-41 with about six minutes remaining and nearly 70 yards to cover in order to reach the end zone. After a sack by Tribe junior linebacker Jaiden Young, the Miners were heading in the wrong direction. As both offenses did with ease throughout the entire night, the El Diamante offense began moving the ball down the field as they pieced together the game-winning drive.
To get in the end zone, they relied heavily on big plays from junior receiver Tylan Stryd and sophomore running back Bryson Donelson who carried the team for the entirety of the game. They worked their way into the red zone, before Donelson converted a crucial fourth and 2, to preserve the drive. A few plays later, Donelson carried two Tribe defenders into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown run as he ended the night with over 100 yards and 4 touchdowns.
It was the first game since November 2019 for El Diamante, in a season where they finished with just one win. Meanwhile, Tulare Union was coming off a five-game condensed season about five months ago, with a lot of their core players returning for the fall. As a result, the Tribe got out to an early 14-0 lead after the first quarter.
“I think not having a game in two years, we had to get used to the speed [of the game]…and how good they are,” El Diamante head coach Chris Frankland said. “Bryson in the first half had three huge touchdowns that kept us in it.”
Donelson put the entire Central Valley on notice in the second quarter of his varsity football debut as he scored three touchdowns in about six minutes. He scored the Miners first touchdown midway through the quarter, and had a long kickoff return which set up a nearly 35-yard run for his second touchdown. Following Tulare Union’s fourth touchdown of the night which put them up 28-13, Donelson ran the ensuing kickoff 93-yards for the score. According to Frankland, that was the play that swung the momentum in his team’s favor. The Tribe had less than a minute remaining in the half to score, but the Miners got their first big stop of the game as they went into the locker room trailing 28-19.
El Diamante received the first possession of the second half and a few big runs got them into the end zone. They converted the two-point conversion and trailed 28-27. Tulare Union moved the ball with ease into the red zone on the ensuing drive, but coughed up possession following a fumble inside of their opponent’s 10-yard line. A few big plays in the passing game got the Miners down the field and into the end zone which put them ahead 33-28 for their first lead of the game towards the end of the third period. The lead changed four more times throughout the rest of the second half before El Diamante was able to win their first season opener since 2014.