IMPERIAL – The Imperial Tigers were looking to rebound from last weekâ€™s shootout loss to Cibola and get their first win of the season as they hosted the Yuma Criminals Friday night.
It was a night that started off slow for the Tigers but by the end were able to grind out a 42-14 victory over a game Yuma Criminal squad, putting on a workmanlike performance both offensively and defensively and evening their overall record at 1-1.
It was a defensive struggle early as both teams exchanged punts on their first possessions.
A fifty three yard punt from Stavon Lewis pinned the Criminals on their own one yard line, and with the Tiger defense clawing down, the Criminals were forced to punt from their own end zone giving the Tigers a short field to work with on its second possession, starting from the criminal 33.
A twenty three yard strike from Aaron Bonillas to Lewis, and two quarterback keepers from Bonillas gave the Tigers a 6-0 lead halfway through the first quarter.
Yuma answered back with an eleven play, fifty yard drive capped by a pass from Criminal Quarterback Riley McAdams to Alex Guerra to put the Criminals up 7-6, late in the first quarter.
Down 7-6 the Tigers showed off some of their special teamâ€™s â€œwizardryâ€ as David Savage returned the ensuing kickoff eighty yards for a touchdown after receiving a pitch from a designed return.
With a successful two-point conversion the Tigers were up 14-7 and held the lead until halfway through the third quarter when another air strike from McAdam to Alex Guerra would tie the game at 14-14.
From there it was all Imperial as the Tigers reeled off twenty eight straight unanswered points.
A twenty five yard dart from Aaron Bonillas to Lewis on the next drive gave the Tigers the 21-14 lead and after holding the Criminals to another three and out, it was again a Bonillas to Lewis touchdown pass, this one from fifty two yards, that put the Tigers up 28-14.
Short yardage touchdown runs from George Chavarria and Jon Lee in the fourth quarter capped the scoring for the night and gave the Tigers the 42-14 victory, their first of the season.
On the night, Aaron Bonillas led the way for the Tigers going 7-11 with 209 yards passing and two touchdowns. His favorite target Stavon Lewis ended the night with 120 yards on five catches for two scores. Leading rusher on the night was Carlos Villanueva who finished the night with forty five yards on three carries.
â€œWe have to win each game from here on out, and by that I mean go 110 percent each day in practice,â€ said Tiger head coach Kerry Legarra post-game.
â€œWe just have to make sure that we keep them going and winning every day, giving 110% percent in practice, and weâ€™ll get better each day and thatâ€™s what we have to try to do, because next week the meat of the schedule is starting,â€ said Legarra, looking toward next weekâ€™s meeting with Sweetwater High of San Diego.
With the win tonight Imperial moves to 1-1 on the season and will be on the road next Friday in their first road game of the year taking on Sweetwater High of San Diego in National City.