PALO VERDE — The Brawley Union High School Wildcats varsity football team traveled to Blythe to take on the 4-1 Palo Verde High Yellowjackets in the first game of the IVL Title run for both teams. Palo Verde’s last win over the Wildcats was arount the late 1980’s or early 1990’s and any thoughts of a victory by the hosting Jackets vanished on Brawley’s first drive. A quartet of touchdown runs by Austyn Gutierrez (10 carries for 143) of 2, 73, 36 and 1 yard allowed the Wildcat’s to even their record at 3-3 for the season but most importantly they are 1-0 in IVL.
After winning the coin toss, the Yellowjackets chose to kickoff and receive for the second half. The Wildcats began their first drive of the game at their 35-yard line. Using ten plays on the drive and three and a half minutes of the clock, Brawley mixed in three passes with seven rushes to take the lead 7-0 with 8:33 in the first quarter. Gutierrez scored on a two-yard run. Quarterback AJ Grijalva( 6-10 for 83 yards passing with one touchdown) connected on two passes during this drive.
The Wildcats immediately took possession of drive number two after a quick three plays and a punt by the Yellowjackets. It would take only two run plays to increase the score to 14-0 With 5:08 left in the first quarter. Gutierrez who’s multiple 70+ yard runs have had Wildcat fans cheering all season darted 73 yards for his second touchdown of the evening.
Palo Verde faired a little better on their next drive with one first down but the Wildcat defense tightened quickly after that and forced another Yellowjackets’ punt. With 2:47 left in the first, the Wildcats began with the ball on their 22-yard line. A big run of 29 yards by George Mickle (3 carries for 35 yards) on this drive set up a 36-yard touchdown run for Gutierrez’s third score of the game. With 1:08 left in the first quarter, the Wildcats led 21-0.
The Wildcats increased its lead to 28-0 in the second quarter after forcing another quick punt by Palo Verde. Grijalva connected on another two passes; one to Casey Kline and another to Isaac Garcia, on a seven play drive of 43 yards. Grijalva nearly scored on a 20-yard run but referees placed the ball on the one-yard line. Gutierrez scored numero cuatro on a one yard run with 8:10 left until halftime.
The Palo Verde offense began to click with some positive plays. They would have their best set of downs before the halftime break. Starting at their own 20-yard line, quarterback Paul Rivera began completing passes and succeeded moving the ball on the stingy Wildcat defense. Six completions moved the ball 62 yards deep into Brawley’s two yard line. With first and goal on the Wildcat two-yard line, the defense prevented the Jackets from scoring before the intermission. Three run plays netted no yards and a fourth down incomplete pass kept the score 28-0 at the half.
Brawley began the second half forcing a Palo Verde punt starting its last scoring drive from the 43-yard line. A 57-yard drive of 10 plays ended when Grijalva threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to a diving George Mickle for the final scoring of the evening. With 5:32 left in the third quarter the Wildcats led 35-0 after Braulio Guzman kicked his fifth extra point of the game.
In the game, Brawley offense totaled 353 yards (270 rushing and 83 passing) versus Palo Verde’s 198 yards (48 rushing and 150 passing). The Wildcats’ defense scored its second shutout of the season and were a 26 yard pass on fourth and goal against Yuma earlier in the season from a third scoreless effort.
The win sets up a huge game next week against the Southwest High School Eagles of El Centro. The Eagles come off a huge win over their city championship rivals, the Central Spartans. Southwest is now 6-0 and enjoying one of their most successful seasons in school history. All their wins over the Wildcats have occurred in Brawley and projections for the game on calpreps.com website have the Eagles favored 42-28 over the Wildcats. This should make for an exciting night of Friday Night Lights on October 14th in Brawley at Warne Field where kickoff is scheduled at 7 p.m.