Tigers Score Win in Season Closer

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Imperial's Zeke Hernandez running the ball.
Imperial’s Zeke Hernandez running the ball.

PALO VERDE – It was a night of intensity for the Tigers as they closed out their regular season against Palo Verde. The Tigers faced the Yellow Jackets in this back-and-forth game, but in the end, Imperial pulled off a 43-20 win in true Tiger style.

The Tiger’s offense came out swinging with a long pass from quarterback Aaron Bonillas to #88, Saivon Lewis, resulting in the team’s first touchdown only four minutes into the game. As Palo Verde gained possession of the ball and attempted to drive down-field, an interception by #35, Zeke Hernandez, brought the Tigers back into control. Hernandez’s interception gave the Tigers another opportunity to score, which they did not hesitate to take.

This quick gain of momentum by the Tigers was not unanswered, as the Yellow Jackets quarterback completed a 40 yard pass, bringing them to the 9 yard-line. A penalty brought the Jackets back 5 yards, however from there they pushed forward and scored their first touchdown of the night, bringing the score to 14-6 with one minute left in the first quarter.

As the second quarter began, the Tigers were quick to get the ball moving with another touchdown by Saivon Lewis. Tiger offense opted for a two point conversion which was completed by #5, Joey Keck.

The Jackets’ offense pushed back against the Tigers with a strong drive that brought them into scoring position. However, they met a wall of Tiger defense and had to turn the ball over after an unsuccessful pass on the fourth down.

Tiger offense pushed their way back from their own 20-yard line. A Hail Mary pass from Bonillas to Keck brought the Tigers to their fourth touchdown of the night, followed by another successful two point conversion. When the Jackets regained possession of the ball,  Zeke Hernandez made his second interception of the night resulting with an eventual touchdown for the Tigers.

With less than a minute left in the half, the Yellow Jackets remained strong against the Tiger’s momentum. With a drive downfield, and a penalty on the Tigers that brought the Jackets to first and goal, the Yellow Jacket quarterback found his receiver in the end zone, giving Palo Verde their second touchdown of the night.

With game play resuming after Palo Verde’s Homecoming festivities, the Tigers were set to receive the ball on kickoff. A surprising fumble in the back field by the Tigers was recovered by the Yellow Jackets, putting them into scoring position again. The Jackets took the momentum from the recovery and scored another touchdown, bringing the score to 36-20.

After only a few plays by Tiger offense, a Yellow Jacket interception shifted the game’s momentum further. Tiger defense pushed back against the Yellow Jacket drive, preventing the Yellow Jacket offense from scoring points for the remainder of the game.

Halfway through the fourth quarter, the Tigers scored one more time, bringing the eventual final score to be 43-20.

The Tiger’s honorary player of the game, who is chosen by his teammates, was #5, Joey Keck. When asked how he felt about the game, Keck said, “It was a lot of fun. We played strong with our seniors and had a good game.”

The Imperial Tigers finished off their regular season with an overall record of 6-4, taking second place in the Imperial Valley league with a 4-1 record.