CALIPATRIA â€”Â It was anything but easy, yet the Calipatria High football team finally put things togetherÂ forÂ a comeback to earn the first win of not only the season, but the first win at the brand new Veteranâ€™s Field here Friday.
It took 42 minutes and 35 seconds for the Hornets to take the lead but it was worth it as they beat Excelsior Charter High, 13-12, to get that all important win.
â€œIt means a lot to me to all of us â€¦ I donâ€™t even know how to explain it,â€ said Calipatria junior George Ruvalcalva on the big win. â€œIt feels good, not just for us but for our fans â€¦ theyâ€™ve been here supporting us since my freshman year. I know it hasnâ€™t been the best, but this year is going to be different.â€
Different is right as there are a few new wrinkles to the Hornet football team this season. After a loss in the first game of the season, Calipatria was eager to straighten out those wrinkles against Excelsior.
Flash forward to the third quarter with the Hornets trailing 12-0, Calipatria utilized a big 58-yard run by Ruvalcalva that put the ball on the Eagles six-yard line. On the next play, Zeke Fernandez took a read option into the end zone making it a 12-7 game after a successful extra-point attempt.
The Hornet score rallied the Calipatria sideline and those in the brand new grandstands, urging for a victory.
â€œWe were able to make a lot of corrections in the second half and we came out hard and scored,â€ Calipatria quarterback Isaac Chavez said. â€œIt lit up the whole crowd and when you have your city on your side you have to play harder.â€
In the fourth quarter, the Hornet defense stayed as stout as they had beenÂ in the first quarter that saw four turnovers on downs by the Eagles.
With 6:35 remaining in the game, the Hornets took the ball on their own 32-yard line to begin what hoped would be a game-winning drive.
With the crowd on their side, the Hornets marched down the field on a series of tough, between-the-tackles runs that led down to the Eagles three-yard line. Of his 121 yards on 20 carries, Ruvalcalva added his biggest run of the night as he scored on a three-yard run to give the Hornets a 13-12 lead with 5:25 remaining.
Ruvalcalva was hobbled by injuries throughout the night but it wasnâ€™t going to stop him from helping his team.
â€œInjuries affected us today, but you have to put it in the back of your head and try not to think about it â€¦ get back up and make the next play,â€ he said. â€œOur fans motivated us to keep going, so I wasnâ€™t going to stop.â€
Calipatria held Excelsior to another turnover on downs, then ran out the clock to finish off the win.
It was a sloppy first half for the Hornets as they were plagued with mistakes and penalties including an illegal-motion penalty that negated a 57-yard touchdown run by Ruvalcalva in the first quarter.
â€œIn our first game we shot ourselves in the foot and we started the same way tonight, but in the second half we fixed those mistakes. We werenâ€™t holding, we stayed onsides, and we began executing plays,â€ Calipatria head coach Brennan Petree said. â€œOur defense kept us in the game and we didnâ€™t give up â€¦ it was a great effort from all of our guys tonight and Iâ€™m proud of them all.â€
Calipatria (1-1, 0-0 ML) will travel to play Sherman Indian High at 7 p.m. Saturday in Riverside.
â€œWe have to watch film and see what we did wrong and correct those errors during practice,â€ Chavez said. â€œItâ€™s going to be a tough game but we are going to work hard to keep winning.â€