VALLEY CENTER– The Brawley Wildcat football team traveled for the second week to San Diego County to face the Jaguars of Valley Center High School as Friday night lights continued into week two. Hoping to get their first victory of the season, both teams entered the game with a 0-1 record.
It appeared early into the game that this Wildcats’ team could finally get its first ever victory at the home of the Jaguars with huge plays that gave them the lead twice. A hoped for Wildcats’ victory on the field would come up six points short as Valley Center escaped with a 27-21 win over Brawley. The win gives the Jaguars an 8-2 record against the Wildcats overall.
It only took 24 seconds for Brawley to get its first lead of the game. Beginning at their 23 yard line after the opening kickoff, Austyn Gutierrez (12 carries for 135 yards) again shocked another team with a 70 yard touchdown on the second play from scrimmage. Last week he had a 79 yard scamper for a score. After the extra point kick, it was a 7-0 lead for the Wildcats with 11:36 left in the first quarter.
Valley Center tied the score on their first drive using up almost seven minutes of the clock on sixteen plays eating up 71 yards of real estate in the process.
The score came on a fourth and eight when Sophomore quarterback Rikki Mazetti hit Zachary Marenholz for a 20 yard touchdown pass. With 4:42 left in the first it was 7-7 after the successful point after.
Brawley once again struck quickly with AJ Grijalva leading the offense at quarterback. Grijalva (9-20 for 94 yards passing) had a big pass on the drive of three plays that used up 1:32 of the clock. The big pass was a 39 yard strike to Blake Zeleny followed by another huge run by Gutierrez. Gutierrez hit paydirt from 43 yards out and the Wildcats’ lead was 14-7 with 1:10 left in the first quarter.
The Brawley defense was able to force a three and out on the Jaguars next possession as Valley Center was forced to punt it back to the Wildcats who were on the prowl to increase their lead. A big defensive stance by the Jaguars prevented it from happening as a quarterback sack on the last play of the first quarter forced Brawley to punt to begin the second. From there the Jaguars used 12 plays and almost half of the second quarter to knot the game up at 14-14 with 6:18 left until halftime.
Statistically, both teams were fairly even. Total offense was separated only by 39 yards where the Jaguars held the advantage 363 to the Wildcats 324. With the score tied, Brawley used a seven play drive but it stalled at the Valley Center 30 yard line with 2:20 left until intermission. The Jaguars took advantage of the remaining time and had a 42 yard pass play that got them into Wildcat territory and the chance to take their first lead of not only the game but of their season thus far. They weren’t able to reach the end zone on this drive and had to settle for a 30 yard field goal and gave the Jaguars a 17-14 lead going into the halftime break.
The Jaguars opened up the third quarter increasing their lead to 10 points with a four play drive highlighted by a 67 yard pass thrown from Mazetti to Keith Vazquez (5 receptions for 133 yards). Daniel Belcher (29 carries and 125 yards) scored from one yard out and increased the Jaguar lead to 24-14 with 10:50 left in the third quarter.
With momentum changing drastically, the Jaguars caused a Wildcat turnover on an interception giving them the ball at their 46 yard line. One play later they were on Brawley’s nine yard line with another big pass play on a spectacular reception by Nicolas Serrano. A pass interference on the play was declined to give them the ball at the Wildcat nine. It looked even bleaker for Wildcat fans and players when the Jaguars moved it to the two yard line on a double penalty on Brawley. Fortunately the Wildcats defense held and Valley Center once again had to settle for three points on a 19 yard field goal for a 27-14 lead with 7:13 left in the third quarter.
Wildcats offense sputtered on their next drive and were forced to punt after only three plays. On the next Jaguar drive that began at their 30 yard line they used ten plays to reach Brawley’s 22 yard line. The drive stalled there and Valley Center attempted a 39 yard field goal that didn’t have a prayer of making it through the uprights.
With a minute left in the third, the Jaguars lead was still 27-14. Both teams exchanged punts moving into the fourth quarter with no change on the scoreboard.
Late in the fourth quarter both teams exchanged turnovers. The first was by the Wildcats when an interception seemed to end all hopes of a win. It was followed by a fumble that the Jaguars committed and gave the Wildcats possession with 3:25 left in the game and on their 28 yard line. Brawley took advantage of the gift and utilized a trick play that resembled one from last week’s game against Christian. A lateral pass from Grijalva to George Mickle who then threw to a wide open Casey Kline gained 38 yards to the Jaguar 34 yard line.
Four plays later Grijalva hit Johnny Marquez for a three yard touchdown pass to make the score 27-21 with 2:10 left in the game.
Although the onside kick was not successful in getting the ball back, the defense held and forced another Jaguar punt. This gave the ball to the Wildcats on their own 21 yard line with only 42 seconds left in the game. The Jaguar defense only allowed 17 yards until the final seconds ticked off the clock to end the game.
The Wildcats begin the season similar to last year at 0-2. They will have a week of preparing for their home opener on Warne Field on the 9th. The Yuma Criminals who used to be a regular season opener for Brawley will be in town for the first time in quite a while. Yuma enters the game at 1-1 after a huge loss to the Calexico Bulldogs 34-7.