Big win at home for Wildcats

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George Mickle, #21, takes the ball in for a touchdown.

BRAWLEY — The Brawley Union High Wildcats’ varsity football team had their first game at home hosting the Yuma High School Criminals in week three of both teams’ schedules. It was a smorgasbord of touchdown entrées by the Wildcat offense, scoring seven times, five rushing and two on passes.

After falling to an 0-2 record to begin the season, the fireworks both on the field and in the background skies, lit up a victory in the win column for Brawley in an impressive and dominant 61-7 win over Yuma.

The opening kickoff received by the Wildcats had the same ingredients and results, as quarterback AJ Grijalva guided his offense on a ten-play drive using up four and a half minutes. Grijalva (unofficially 6-9-112 yards passing threw for two touchdowns and rushed for two more in the game) matched the previous two games for the Wildcats by scoring first in the game. The drive covered 69 yards ending at the 7:31 mark of the first quarter on a short two-yard touchdown run by the senior quarterback. The point-after-kick was good and Brawley lead, 7-0.

Both teams traded punts after Yuma’s first possession and the Wildcats’ second. Brawley’s defense held the Criminals to under 100 yards of total offense at 93 for the game. It was made possible by keeping Yuma to -34 yards rushing that included seven quarterback sacks by six Wildcat defensive players. Cedric Ambriz led the rush with three sacks followed by Casey Kline with two.

Brawley’s lead increased on their third possession when Austyn Gutierrez hit the trifecta. Gutierrez for the third straight game lead all rushers with 161 yards on eight carries and three touchdowns. The drive lasted only nine seconds when a 67-yard touchdown run by Gutierrez had the Wildcats up 14-0 with :26 seconds left in the first quarter. Gutierrez scored again after the Wildcat defense forced a Yuma punt to begin the second quarter. The next score also used nine seconds of the game clock and covered 45 yards for a 21-0 Wildcat lead. Leading the way offensively on the ground for the Wildcats, Gutierrez, who added to his season rushing total, now stands 441 total yards rushing on only 35 carries.

“It feels good to just be helping my team out,” said Gutierrez who’s three rushing touchdowns Friday night also bumped his total to six touchdowns on the season. “My teammates, O-line, they’re always blocking right, the hole is always there, and when the holes open, I just run hard,” he added.

 
On Yuma’s next drive, Brawley forced a Criminal fumble that was recovered by Blake Zeleny at the Yuma 17-yard line. The trifecta of three touchdowns, all with drives that lasted nine seconds each was completed by Gutierrez as he went in for the last of his three scores. It gave the Wildcats a 28-0 lead with 9:52 remaining until halftime.

The next drive, the Yuma Criminals looking like a completely different team. Down by four touchdowns, they found success by making first downs on the arm of #2 Alex Guerra who could do almost nothing wrong on their only scoring drive of the game. The lefty gunslinger had six completions on this drive but also found himself sacked a couple of times by the Wildcat’s stingy defense. On a fourth and goal from 26 yards out, Guerra escaped what would have been a third sack in the drive, then threw for the only Criminal score to a wide open Damian Miller making it 28-7 with 4:13 left until intermission.

It took the Wildcats only four plays to cover a 55-yard drive for their next score. The drive was highlighted with a 22-yard pass to Ruben Elizalde and was followed by a 20-yard touchdown run by quarterback Grijalva. With 2:27 left until halftime, the score was 34-7 after Yuma blocked the point after attempt.

Another short Yuma drive gave possession to the Wildcats at the 50-yard line. It didn’t take long for the scoreboard to show 41-7 with two big passes on this drive. Moving the ball for another score was Grijalva hitting Zeleny for a 22-yard touchdown strike.

The second half had the Wildcats kicking off to the Criminals. Kicker Braulio (Brawley-O) Guzman hit a perfect pooch kick that wasn’t covered by Yuma’s special teams. An alert Blake Zeleny recovered the gift at the 28-yard line of Yuma where Brawley would only use three plays and take little more than three minutes off the clock to score. A big pass reception by Brandon Gutierrez of 16 yards and a 19-yard touchdown reception to George Mickle gave the Wildcats a 48-6 lead with 9:49 left in the third.

Brawley’s next possession came quickly after their defense forced another punt by the Criminals. The drive started at the Yuma 47-yard line and substitute players began replacing the starters. This one was lead by sophomore quarterback Casey Kline and he handed the ball off to Michael Moreno and Isaac Garcia a combination of six times with Garcia scoring on a four-yard run to end the third quarter. The scoreboard showed 54-6 after a failed extra point kick.

Isaac Garcia gave the Wildcats great field possession after another Yuma punt. His return of over 45 yards took it to the Criminal nine-yard line. It gave another set of Wildcat players a chance to put the final points on the scoreboard. The drive was lead by Ethan Torres who used three-run plays to Blass Gutierrez who scored on a ten-yard run to give the game a final score of 61-7 in favor of the Brawley Wildcats.

“I think we’ve had growth from the first week to this week, the guys are doing a good job of playing together and battling,” said Brawley Wildcat head coach Jon Self on the team’s progress this season.

“Im looking forward to just keeping strong, keep going the way we are, we’ve progressed a lot,” Gutierrez added agreeing with his coach.

Another Arizona team will challenge the Wildcats as the Cibola High School Raiders will be in Brawley next Friday night. The Raiders beat the Wildcats 16-10 in a close game last year in Yuma. It was the first ever victory for Cibola against Brawley. They enter the game with a record of 2-2 with wins over the Imperial High School Tigers in double overtime as well as a lopsided win of 52-7 over their rivals, Gila Ridge High School. Southwest of El Centro beat them in a 47-42 shootout last week. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday the 16th at Warne Field.

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