BRAWLEY – The Brawley Wildcats football team visited the Jaguars at Valley Center on Friday evening in what has turned into a stewed rivalry since the late 1990’s.
The Wildcats lone win over the Jaguars was their first meeting ever, but Valley Center has won every contest since then (6, including the Q game and in the playoffs a couple years ago) For the Wildcats, it was a combination of a slow start, mental discipline errors and some questionable calls in officiating that allowed the Jaguars streak to extend to 6 straight over Brawley, now 1-1. The Jaguars improved their record to 2-0 after escaping with a one point win over Mar Vista last week.
The Jaguars began the game with a monstrous first drive in which all cylinders were on fire. With a 7 play 53 yard drive, Valley Center moved the ball at will, both on runs and passing. The first score came on a 15 yard pass with 9:27 left in the first. The point after was good, Jaguars were up 7-0.
The Wildcats began their first possession at their own 35. Using the speed of Misael Soto, Brawley moved the ball into Valley Center’s side of the field to the 37. Soto accounted for two first down runs, but the Jaguars defense adjusted and Brawley turned the ball over on downs with 4:52 to go in the first quarter.
Valley Center offensive line again allowed for another big drive for the Jaguars. Big runs of 6 yards or more accounted for three first downs and the ball reached the Wildcat 22 yard line by the end of the quarter. Luckily for the Wildcats, momentum was thrown off course. The Jaguars settled for a field goal with 9:28 to go till halftime. Valley Center led 10-0.
Down by 10, the Wildcats were unable get a sustained drive going while the Jaguar defense made itself difficult to run against. They consistently protected against the run and forced a Brawley punt with 5:57 left till halftime.
Valley Center’s next drive looked like a team ready to dominate and take complete control of the game. Starting at their 16, they drove at will with big passes and runs. A fourth first down to the Wildcat 35 yard line, Brawley took a defensive stand they needed for both confidence and a chance to keep the score close. Andrew Ortiz had a big quarterback sack that seemed to ignite the Wildcats. With 4th and 2, Valley Center seemed to have a change of strategy when they opted to try a 47 yard field goal. It fell short and Mr. Mo-Mentum had changed his course to end the half.
The second half seemed to be a complete opposite of the first. Brawley had adjusted and was moving the ball at will. Using Ross Rubio as its main weapon, the Wildcats QB accounted for 6 runs and a pass to get the ball into scoring position. With 5:40 left in the 3rd quarter, Bryce Alexander put the Wildcats on the scoreboard with an 8 yard run. The PAT was blocked and Brawley trailed 10-6.
The Wildcat defense fully demonstrated the shift in momentum as they held the Jaguars to a three and out(punt) with 3:15 left in the 3rd quarter.
With the Wildcats back on offense and an unrested Jaguar defense, Brawley was now on pace to take the lead. Brawley began at their 28 yard line. One Bryce run of five yards was followed by a half back pass from Bryce to Donovin Buck which moved the sticks to the Valley Center 32 yard line for a first down.
Misael Soto had another two runs for a first to the 21 yard line. The quarter began with a Wildcats QB Rubio run to the Valley Center 10 yard line, first and goal. Isaac Comparan was given two carries and he hit pay dirt with a four yard run. The PAT was good with Brawley ahead 13-10. This was the first ever lead by any Brawley team at Valley Center.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the Jaguars still had reserve left in the tank and it seemed the referee’s had a few things up their sleeves.
With 10:43 left in the game, Valley Center began at their own 39. They didn’t move the ball as well as in the first half, but managed to keep the drive alive on a 4th and inches quarterback sneak for a first at the Brawley 49.
A short run and two incomplete passes made a long 4th and 6. The next play appeared to be an incomplete pass that should have ended the drive with the Wildcats taking possession.
It was ruled a completion even though the ball was never controlled by the Jaguar receiver so the drive to continued. The Jaguars were able to sustain the drive with 5:07 left in the game when they regained the lead, 17-13, after the point after conversion.
The final drive for the Wildcats was one in which they seemed to be running uphill. It began at its own 22 yard line. Big plays included a crucial 4th and 8 quarterback scramble for a first down by Ross Rubio and another huge pass play from Rubio to Donovin Buck.
The second pass resulted in an offensive pass interference call and an additional unsportsmanlike penalty that moved the Wildcats back deep onto their side of the field, again.
On a fourth and 15, the Wildcats converted a long pass to the Valley Center 45. After an in-completion, a big first down pass to the Jaguar 14 yard line had the Wildcats smelling victory, but it was all for not as a holding penalty on the next play moved them back to the 33 yard line of Valley Center.
The Jaguars sacked QB Rubio on the next play, but he was alert enough to call a play to spike the ball for one last play with six seconds left in the game. On the last play, a pass to Buck took them inside the five yard line but time on the clock had struck zero and the game ended.
Brawley, now 1-1, will try to rebound and get back into the win column next week as they host the Coachella Valley Arabs. The Arabs are the only DVL team the Wildcats will face this season.