The first ever game at Veterans Stadium is going to be a tough act to follow.
Merced stormed the field after denying Clovis West on a two-point conversion attempt in double overtime as the Bears held on for a 31-30 win on Thursday night.
Merced turned to the legs of quarterback Eli Gutierrez for touchdown runs in both overtimes.
A Clovis West field goal with 18 seconds left in regulation sent the game to overtime.
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The Golden Eagles then needed three plays in the first overtime to score as Hunter Burns scored his second touchdown of the game on a 3-yard run to give Clovis West a 24-17 lead.
The Bears then took over from the 10-yard line and needed just two plays as Gutierrez faked a fly sweep to Jaquari People and broke through the middle for a 9-yard touchdown to tie the game at 24-24.
Gutierrez then scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to open the second overtime. Merced opted to kick the extra point and Robert Stowe nailed it for a 31-24 lead.
Clovis West then moved the ball down to the 2-yard line on three plays. On fourth down, Ian Hall found Burns for the touchdown to cut the lead to 31-30.
Golden Eagles coach Mikek Parsons elected to go for the win with a two-point conversion. Again, Hall looked for Burns in the end zone. Burns dove for a sinking pass, but the ball glanced off of his hands and fell to the ground.
Merced exploded onto the field as it celebrated a win over the 14th-ranked team in the state according to Cal-Hi Sports.
The Bears had plenty of opportunities to score as the Merced defense gave its offense the ball in the red zone three times on turnovers. However, the offense was unable to get into the end zone.
People came up with a big interception midway through the fourth quarter and returned the ball to the Clovis West 10-yard line.
After not being able to turn the short fields into any points on the two previous turnovers, Merced settled for a 20-yard field goal by Robert Stowe that gave the Bears a 17-14 lead with 6:46 left in the fourth quarter.
Clovis West then came up with a big drive when it needed it.
Golden Eagles quarterback Ian Hall -- who had been beaten, bruised and briefly knocked out of the game -- led his team on a 19-play drive down to the Bears 3-yard line. Clovis West converted on two big fourth-down plays and benefited on a pass interference call on Merced on another fourth-down play during the drive.
Clovis West finally settled on a 20-yard field goal by Drew Walter to tie the game at 17-17 with 18 seconds left in regulation.
David Keys will be the answer to a future trivia question. The Merced junior scored the first touchdown at Veterans Stadium when he hauled in an 8-yard touchdown pass from Eli Gutierrez to give the Bears a 7-0 lead with 7:29 left in the first quarter.
The touchdown pass capped off an impressive 68-yard opening drive for Merced that took 10 plays.