CLOVIS — Again, Stockdale High came oh so close against preseason football rival Clovis.
Again, the Mustangs were denied in a one-score game.
A last-minute drive into Cougars’ territory came up short as The Californian’s No. 19-ranked Stockdale lost to No. 10 Clovis 17-14 on Friday at Lamonica Stadium.
It was the Mustangs’ eighth straight loss to Clovis, the past four all decided by one score.
Stockdale (1-2) had a chance to win it with possession for the final time at its 25 with 2:31 left.
Mustangs quarterback Jalen Smith had a 26-yard run, then passes of 9 yards to Evan Burkhart, 9 yards to Stephen Renok and 21 yards to Hudson Sabol to set up a first-and-goal from the Clovis 10.
A holding penalty on first down pushed Stockdale back to the 20.
But on third down, Sabol broke into the clear without a defender between him and the end zone, only to have Smith, who had completed 19 of 26 passes to that point, fire too long.
A fourth-down pass intended for Sabol was intercepted by Nick Delgado, allowing Clovis to run out the clock.
Stockdale also had the ball with 6:22 left, and moved from its 8-yard line out to Clovis’ 47 before the drive stalled.
The Cougars (3-1) rallied from a 14-7 halftime deficit, getting 22-yard Corey Arcelus field goal with 34 seconds left in the third quarter, and the go-ahead score with 6:28 to go in the fourth with back-up quarterback Jake Sanders connected with Manuel Machado for a 29-yard touchdown.
Stockdale’s first-half edge might have been bigger if not for a killer two-play swing late in the first quarter.
A potential Hudson Sabol interception in Clovis territory was nullified by a penalty, and on the next play, Cougar Cole Roberts broke loose for a 70-yard touchdown to tie the score 7-7.
Stockdale went three-and-out on its next possession, but fumble recovery by Brandon Dunn set the stage for a 12-play, 66-yard scoring march capped by Nick Maiden’s 1-yard plunge on fourth-and goal for a 14-7 Mustangs’ lead with 5:20 left in the second quarter.
After a Maiden sack stopped Clovis’ game-opening drive, Stockdale went 87 yards in 15 plays to open a 7-0 lead on Kilyn Davidson’s 6-yard touchdown run.
Mustang Maison Wright had an interception to end Clovis’ final drive of the first half.
Stockdale last beat Clovis in 2009, winning 47-20.
Smith passed for 203 yards, while Sabol had three receptions for 71 yards.