BRAWLEY – The Cibola Raiders crossed the Colorado River one more time in hopes of achieving the California Tri-fecta, if only they could figure out how to beat Brawley on Wildcat turf. It was one too many rolls of the dice though as the Wildcats controlled both sides of the ball (offense and defense) and spoiled any hopes of three Imperial Valley wins. By the end of the game, Brawley whittled away a 21 point lead in the first half and shutout the second team in as many weeks on Warne Field. The final score ended 21-0, Brawley over Cibola as the Wildcats improved their record to 3-1 for the season.
Without the services of Nico Aguirre, due to last weekâ€™s injury, it was a big question mark how it would affect the teamâ€™s performance and morale.
The Wildcats won the opening coin toss and deferred to receive kickoff for the second half. Kicking to the Raiders gave Cibola first possession on their own 27 yard line. A quick first down on the first play did not reflect the success of the Raiders. They punted four plays later and the Wildcats found themselves with the ball on their 14.
Brawley moved the ball well on five plays that brought them close to midfield, but a fumble turned it over to Cibola on their own 44-yard line with great field position. In this drive they were able to move deep into Wildcat territory, somewhat reminiscent of last week versus the Knights of Shadow Hills. Taking it down to the 27- yard line of Brawley, the drive stalled and the Wildcats defense prevailed. This would be the deepest the Raiders would go into Brawley territory the entire game.
The Wildcats used just over a minute, with the ball on their own 27- yard line, to score. Faced with a third and one from their own 36- yard line, Ross Rubio (15 carries-129 yards) made the perfect read and decision for a 64- yard QB keeper into the end zone virtually untouched. The PAT was good by Omar Celis and at 2:42 left in the first it was 7-0.
Cibola had fairly good field position at their 37- yard line to begin their next drive. The first two plays moved them back to their 25- yard line but they were able to dig themselves out of a 2nd and 25 from their 25- yard line. Getting a much-needed first down on big pass plays by Bailey Arvizo had the Raiders in Brawley territory just across midfield.
Early in the second quarter, Steven Baeza, Alex Campbell, Nathan Montalvo and Jacob Ordonez, on a great defensive stance, thwarted once again, another fourth down gamble.
The Wildcats and Raiders both exchanged punts for the next two series of downs. When Brawley received the punt with 7:00 left in the second quarter, the Wildcats increased the lead to 14-0 on a one-yard plunge by Andrew Ortiz (24 carries and 136 yards). It was a drive that began at midfield and took six plays, all but one were runs by Andrew. The PAT was good and it was 14-0 with about five minutes left till the half.
Cibola didnâ€™t have an answer, now behind by fourteen points. They did create more questions for themselves, though. On their first play from scrimmage at their own 10-yard line, Abraham Thompson had a good seven-yard run only to fumble the ball away. Steven Baeza caused the fumble and Blake Zeleney was there to pick up the gift.
On the Cibola 17-yard line with 4:45 left in the half, the Wildcats had a short drive for the last scoring of the game. In this drive, Ortiz ran two carries, followed by two penalties that forced them into a 1st and goal at the 11-yard line. The next play had Andrew carrying it in for his second score of the game with an eleven-yard TD run. The PAT was good once again and Brawley led 21-0.
Each team had one more drive that netted two first downs for Cibola and three first downs for Brawley. It stayed 21-0 with the Wildcats ahead.
Cibola needed the ball in the second half, so they gambled with an onside kick to begin the third quarter. Blake Zeleney recovered any hopes of the Raiders attaining possession.
The Wildcats didnâ€™t move the ball much on its first drive and Cibola tried something different in the second half. They opted to run a no huddle offense to keep the Wildcats on their heels with no chance of substituting. They succeeded moving the ball until they hit Wildcat territory.
At the 40-yard line, the defense stiffened and the Raiders were forced to punt.
Both teams traded shots on offense but the defenses prevented either team from scoring.
The Wildcats defense, for the second week in a row, held their opponents from entering the Brawley red zone. Cibola made it as far as the 27-yard line of the Wildcats in the first half and only the 38-yard line in the second half.
Nathan Montalvo had an interception late in the game to give the Wildcats their final possession. In that drive, Brawley ran the clock out for its third win and second shutout.
After the game, Coach Jon Self awarded â€œThe Rockâ€ to offensive lineman Tony Ramos. The line was the difference in this game. As Captain and leader of the offensive line, Tony Ramos was recognized for his leadership and his game play.
The Wildcats will host the Hawks of Yumaâ€™s Gila Ridge High School next Friday. Their record is 2-3 with a win over the Central Spartans 19-7. They also have been on the losing end by big margins.