Cibola Raiders Win Big In Brawley

George Mickle, #21, fends off a Cibola tackle


BRAWLEY — The Brawley Union High School varsity football team hosted the Cibola High School Raiders on Warne Field Friday evening. Hoping to avenge a close 16-10 loss to the Raiders last year in Yuma, the Wildcats fell behind quickly to a high potency offense that racked up over 450 yards of total offense in the game. Brawley fell behind but managed to tie the game in the first quarter and kept the score close through most of the first three quarters, but turnovers and 21 points in the final stanza guided the Raiders to an impressive 59-35 win over the Brawley Wildcats.

This was the first game in which the Wildcats didn’t score first and the Raiders used only 57 seconds on a four plays covering 58 yards. Cibola quarterback, Curtis Wolfe, (24-33 for 335 yards and six touchdowns) threw his first strike of 42 yards to Gabriel Claudio (7 receptions for 113 and three touchdowns). At 11:03, the Raiders lead was 7-0.

A quick three-and-out found the Wildcats punting the ball to Cibola for their second drive of the game, starting at their 30-yard line. Four plays and a 22-yard pass to Mark Walton (six receptions for 105 yards and three touchdowns) built a 14-point lead with 8:37 left in the first quarter.

The Wildcat offense began to click with success on their second possession. Beginning at their 23-yard line, Brawley used ten straight run plays, then a five-yard touchdown pass from quarterback, AJ Grijalva, (6-11 for 46 yards and three touchdowns two passing and one rushing) to Blake Zeleny to cut the lead in half. With 4:12 left in the first quarter it was 14-7.

A play reminiscent of last week on special teams found Brawley with the possession of the football when the Wildcats recovered another of their pooched kicks. This gave the offense a short field of 34 yards where seven plays later Austyn Gutierrez (28 carries for 265 yards rushing and two touchdowns) would tie the game at 14-14 on a four-yard run.

Rolling into the second quarter, the Wildcat defense tightened up and forced a turnover on downs when Cibola chose to attempt a fourth and four. A rare incomplete pass in the evening for the Raiders gave possession to the Wildcats where they had a chance to take the lead. Brawley gambled on the first play and tried to catch the defense off guard with a pitch to George Mickle, then Mickle’s pass was intercepted by the Raiders. The had the ball now on Brawley’s 45-yard line.

The visitors exchanged the gift for more points on their side of the scoreboard five plays later on a 31-yard touchdown pass to Gabriel Claudio to make it 21-14 with 8:48 until halftime. But the lead didn’t last too long as Austyn Gutierrez, who for the fourth straight game has led all rushers, electrified the home fans with another long touchdown run. This one was 67 yards that knotted the score at 21 points each.

The Wildcat defense once again did their job and forced the only punt of the evening by the Raiders. This gave Brawley offense another opportunity to take the lead before the end of the second quarter. Cibola’s defense had other intentions though, as the forced one of three fumbles on the Wildcat drive on the second play. The Raiders had a short field of 13 yards and they took advantage and went ahead on a 30-yard field goal. With 4:55 left until halftime, the score was 24-2 in favor of the visiting team.

Fumble number two came two plays later and allowed the Raiders to increase their lead with great field position at the Brawley 29-yard line. Five plays later Cibola went up 31-21 on a third touchdown pass of 11 yards to Gabriel Claudio with 1:34 left until halftime.

The final scoring of the first half brought the Wildcats to within three points at 31-28. Johnny Marquez (four receptions and 47 yards) led Brawley in receiving yards with a 17-yard reception on this drive. Grijalva threw his second touchdown pass to Mickle and the shootout would go into the halftime break,

The second half found the Wildcats with another opportunity to take the lead as they received the kickoff. Turnovers would make the difference on this night as Brawley once again gave the Raiders the ball in good field position at the Wildcats’ 40-yard line on an interception. Five plays later a Wolfe to Walton touchdown pass of 23 yards put Ciibola ahead, 38-28.

Redeeming themselves, the Brawley offense found 74 yards of Gutierrez’s rushing total on seven carries and Grijalva would score from one yard out to make it 38-35 with 5:25 left in the third quarter.

Down by only three points the Wildcats had the ball and a chance to take the lead when Brawley’s Michael Moreno recovered a fumble at the Wildcat 30-yard line late in the third quarter. It was met with a tough defensive stance by Cibola who forced a punt in three plays.

Cibola would take control of the game with three touchdowns in the final period. Two one-yard runs and one touchdown pass of 18 yards gave the Cibola Raiders their first ever win on Warne Field in Brawley with the final score showing 59-35.

The Wildcats are now 1-3 and will host the Gila Ridge High School Hawks next week. The Hawks enter the game also with a 1-3 record and their lone win was against the Central Spartans 21-6 in week two. Gila Ridge lost to Cibola 52-7 and to the Kofa High Kings 36-20. It will be the last game the Wildcats will have to prepare for the IVL title quest. After a “Bye” week, they will travel to Blythe to play the Palo Verde Yellow Jackets.

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