EL CENTRO — It was a hard fought defensive battle Friday night as Central Union High School took on Gila Ridge in the Spartan’s second football game of the season.
Starting with a scoreless first quarter, Gila Ridge ultimately found a way to come back from a ten point deficit to beat the Spartans 13-10.
Although both teams refused to let their opponent jump much ahead of the other, the first half belonged to the Spartans.
Both teams traded punts for the first half until Central’s Jordan Ackie returned a punt of 45-yards into Gila Ridge territory giving the Spartans great field position in which led to a 35-yard field goal, giving Central a 3-0 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Central stopped Gila Ridge on three downs forcing yet another punt. With the Spartans having the ball, a pass from Ricky Guzman to Nick Ramirez for 12 yards, earning a first down and field position inside their opponent’s 40-yard line.
The very next play, Alen Pope took a toss and looked to be stopped in the backfield until he shed the tackle and sped around the corner for a 23-yard first down. With it being first and goal, Alex Duarte, Central’s power-back, worked his way into the end zone giving Central a 10-0 lead with 5:04 to go in the second quarter.
On the ensuing Gila Ridge possession it was a story of penalty trouble for Central as they gave up 55 yards in a single drive which rattled the home crowd.
Gila Ridge used the gift yardage and eventually ended up with their offense knocking on the Spartan’s goal line, needing only 10 yards to get into the end zone. But with penalties of their own, and a strong defensive stop, they were forced to settle for a 32-yard field goal making it a 10-3 game.
The third quarter proved to be much like the first, defensive stop after defensive stop. No points were scored in the third quarter, even after five possessions for the Spartans.
Getting the ball to start the fourth, an extremely controversial fumble call led to a 70-yard return which tied the game at 10-all with 10:27 to go in the fourth.
The Central faithful radiated boos throughout Cal Jones field and although plenty of calls didn’t go their away, Juan Chavarin, who ended the game with eight tackles and two sacks, made no excuses.
“We will learn from our own mistakes and we’ll come back next game stronger,” Chavarin said.
Late in the fourth quarter, Gila Ridge put the game away as they capped the comeback attempt with a 12-yard field goal with 1:39 remaining.
Central head coach Michael Hobbs expressed a similar attitude as his players.
“Our guys aren’t taking care of their bodies. We had too many players go down to injuries. Ackie, Pope, “Buddha” (Chavarin) … we had five starters go down and had to throw in our extras.”
The Spartans (1-1, 0-0 IVL) will travel to play Coachella Valley at 7 p.m. Friday.