BRAWLEY — It was “Senior Night” at Warne Field as the Brawley Union High School Wildcats hosted its final home regular football game of the 2015 season on Friday night.
The visiting Palo Verde Valley High Yellowjackets under coach George Dagnino entered the game with a 3-4 record with only one win in the Imperial Valley League over the Calexico High Bulldogs.
Hopes of catching the Wildcats on the down side of a disappointing loss last week to the Imperial High Tigers would not occur Friday night. The Jackets’ didn’t get on track in this game until Brawley had a comfortable 50-0 lead late in the third quarter that ended in a big 57-6 win.
Brawley possessed the ball for less than two minutes before jumping out to a quick 21-0 lead.
Palo Verde’s first drive of seven plays ended with a blocked punt, Nathan Montalvo picked up the loose ball and run it in for the first score. A perfect night of extra-point kicks by David Quintero who was seven out of seven had the score 7-0 early in the first quarter.
The Jackets next possession moved from their 29-yard line to the Wildcat 27-yard line. A fresh defense for Brawley allowed nothing more, and the offense had the ball for the first time in the game at the 2:40 mark of the opening stanza. Brawley quarterback A.J. Grijalva (4-8 for 145 yards and no interceptions) had a big, 44 yard pass play to George Mickle. Nathan Suits, who was close to 1,000 yards of rushing for the season, had three carries and scored the first of his three touchdowns in the game. With 1:11 left in the first quarter it was 14-0.
A quick three plays and a punt by Palo Verde stretched into the second quarter where the Wildcats took over at 11:11.
An Austyn Gutierrez (3 rushes for 46 yards) 16-yard run set up a first down at the Jacket 43-yard line. From there, Grijalva connected for his first touchdown pass of the season to Kevin Kastner for the 21-0 lead.
One more score occurred for Brawley before intermission, but not after the best drive of the game for Palo Verde. A muffed punt after a fourth down kick gave the Jackets’ great field position at the Wildcat 22-yard line.
For the second time after moving the ball to opposite ends of the field, Palo Verde was thwarted from scoring by a stiff Wildcat defense. After a failed fourth down the Wildcat offense took over at their 27-yard line.
Two big pass plays from Grijalva to Gutierrez and Suits quickly gained 58 yards to the Palo Verde 15-yard line. Three runs later the Wildcats increased the score to 28-0 with a Suits’ three-yard run, his second touchdown.
First half success extended into the opening kickoff of the third quarter. Mickle would put the Wildcats at the Jackets 30-yard line with a long 65-yard return. An incomplete pass was followed by a 30-yard touchdown run by Suits for the last input in his stats for this game. It was now 35-0.
For the second time in the season, this time generated by special teams, the Wildcats forced a safety for the next score. Punting out of their end zone, a blocked punt was recovered by the Jackets that put the Wildcats up 37-0 at 9:25 of the third quarter. Gutierrez increased the lead to 44-0 on a 13-yard run on a five-play drive of 52 yards.
The final two scores for the Wildcats came after most starters were replaced by the second team. Scoring his second touchdown of the season, Moises Lazos (2 carries and 38 yards) made the most of his first carry with a 36-yard touchdown run. A high snap on the extra-point kick forced an incomplete pass and it was 50-0 with 4:47 left in the third quarter.
Palo Verde finally reached the promise land of the end zone on a long 79-yard pass from Diego Najera (9-15 for 134 yards passing, one interception) to a streaking Terry Daniels (2 catches for 83 yards) for the only score by the Jackets. A failed two-point conversion try kept the score at 50-6 with 2:09 showing on the scoreboard in the third quarter.
Leading rusher for this game took most of his carries on the Wildcats’ last three possessions. Ruben Elizalde (15 carries for 73 yards and one touchdown) capped off the final scoring by Brawley on a ten-yard run early in the fourth quarter where the Wildcats led 57-6 with 8:08 left in the game.
By rule with the 35-point or more lead after the third quarter the game was already in a running clock situation.
The Brawley Wildcats (5-4 overall and 3-1 in IVL) now look ahead to next Friday’s “Victory Bell” game against the Central Union High Spartans of El Centro. The Spartans enter the game with a 4-5 record and look to complete some unfinished business left from last year’s meeting on Warne Field. In that game, the Wildcats needed a valiant effort to overcome a 21-10 lead by Central.
A game that is one of the longest rivalries in the nation continues after 71 meetings in “Bell Games” and many more counting regular season matches.
Look for “After Further Review” for a preview of the “Bell Game” and a wrap-up of the Wildcat-Yellow Jackets game.
Tickets for the “Bell Game” are already on sale at both schools. Game time kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.[envira-gallery id=”67474″]