CLOVIS, Calif. — Jayden Mandal threw for one touchdown and ran for another and Buchanan’s defense came up with three interceptions to lead the Bears to a 24-17 victory over Central on Thursday night.
Central (5-1) was unbeaten coming into the game, but could not score against the Bears’ fast, physical defense in the fourth quarter. The win puts Buchanan (6-1) in the driver’s seat for the Tri-River Athletic Conference (TRAC) title.
Buchanan took an early 7-0 lead when Michael Runnels fielded the opening kickoff and returned it 98 yards for a touchdown. Central answered with a scoring drive that was capped by a four-yard TD run by Ah’marion Gaines-Smith to make it 7-7 midway through the first quarter.
Mandal connected with Travis Sirwet on a 33-yard TD pass to give Buchanan a 14-7 lead late in the first quarter. Central running back Jesiah Lindsey answered with a 33-yard TD run to tie the game 14-14 in the second quarter.
Rocky Reyes booted a short field with 20 seconds left in the first half to give Buchanan a 17-14 halftime lead.
Mandal extended Buchanan’s lead to 24-14 with a 5-yard rushing touchdown with just under five minutes left in the third quarter. Central closed the gap to seven on a field goal from Darwin Melger late in the third quarter, but could get no closer.
Robert Johnson, Harrison Kalpakoff and Kannon Campbell each had interceptions for Buchanan.
Imari Conley and Kaleb Tennison had picks for Central.
(All photos by Bobby Medellin)