Wildcat’s Opening Night Thriller



BRAWLEY – The Brawley Wildcats shook the Jaguars off their back on Friday night with an explosive first half of a twenty-eight point halftime lead, of which twenty-one came in the second quarter.


The win was the first over Valley Center since Brawley hosted them for a loss in 1998 by a score of 42-8. Last night appeared to be going the same way for the Wildcats as the evening began with a late start.


The pace of the game stretched the evening into a long night as the Jaguars passing attack was relentless in a second half come from behind bid. Valley Center was just one touchdown short of spoiling the Wildcats home opener as Brawley won 35-28.


Brawley took the opening kickoff and began their first play with reminiscence of the Championship game at the “Q” in 2004. It wasn’t Justin Baeza to Mike Mohammed but Ross Rubio to Nico Aguirre on the fly down the sideline. Unfortunately, the “Q” had different results as the Jaguars’ John Cabrera didn’t bite and intercepted the pass and gave Valley Center the ball at their own 46-yard line for great field position.


With that, the Jaguars pounded the running game to soften the Wildcats early. They had success until the 20-yard line and were only able to go backwards giving Brawley the ball on a loss of downs at the 26-yard line with 8:02 left in the opening quarter.


This time the Wildcats under “The Rock” winner Ross Rubio set out to do what they could not achieve the week before. They sustained a drive that lasted just over four minutes, and after seven carries from Rubio, the path was paved with the glory of a 30-yard TD run by Andrew Ortiz. The PAT was good by kicker Omar Celis and the Wildcats led 7-0.


The ensuing drive by the Jaguars started at their 35-yard line after the kickoff went out of bounds.


The Jaguars weren’t as successful this time as the Brawley defense stiffened. The drive was highlighted by an impressive sack by Sophomore Blake Zeleney as he blew by his blocker nearly untouched for a big sack.


One play later the Wildcats Alex Campbell recovered a fumble at the Jaguar 30 yard line and it was time for score number two.


This time it took only four plays for Brawley’s Ortiz to score from four yards out but with the point after blocked it was now a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter.


Now into the second quarter, Jaguar QB Daniel DeLeon began finding his targets and having more time to do so. They moved the ball at will once the passing began to take precedence.


This time they recorded four first downs and moved the ball from their 24 to the Brawley 20-yard line.


As the Jaguars looked to cut the deficit in half, DeLeon threw one too many passes in the middle of the field as Nico Aguirre stepped in front of the receiver for the interception.


Stopping the drive wasn’t enough for Aguirre as he outran the entire Jaguar players for a 95 yard TD return leaving the visiting fans stunned. The PAT was good and it was a three touchdown lead for the Wildcats at 20-0 with 7:58 still left in the half.


There was no quit in Valley Center as they kept the pedal to the metal with the passing game. DeLeon, who finished 29-47 for 356 yards, once again moved his team into Wildcat territory to the twenty yard line. Thirteen plays later another drive had stalled and the Wildcats would have 3:33 on the clock to score.


Brawley used fifteen plays and every second that remained in the first half as it drove for another score to cap off the scoring.


Andrew Ortiz who rushed for 152 yards on 20 carries in the game scored his third TD from one yard out to make it a four score lead. He scored the 2 point conversion on the short run to make the score 28-0.


Last week the Jaguars trailed 14-7 at half only to score 33 in the second to win 40-14. Opening up the second half rested and recharged Valley Center looked to do a repeat performance.


The humid warm air had no negative effects for QB as he was able to put the Jaguars on the board for the first time with 7:42 left in the third quarter. The drive took twelve plays of which seven were passes. The TD was completed to Jared Gilster from five yards out and the score was 28-0.


a-028Wildcats showed no signs of slowing down on their first drive of the second half. This one lasted seven plays all of which were plays using Ortiz and Rubio.


With the Jaguars defense turning their focus on those two Rubio changed the course when he gave the rock to Nico Aguirre for a 20-yard scamper into the end zone. The PAT was good and it would be the final scoring of the Wildcats for the evening. 35-7 was the lead at the 4:34 mark of the third quarter.


One of the things Valley Center didn’t do all evening was punt. They had quick striking capabilities and it showed as it took less than three minutes to go sixty yards. One big play was a huge 34-yard pass that quickly ignited the score.


Seven plays later another score by the Jaguars on a pass of 21 yards to John Lucas made the score 35-14 after the PAT.


The game had a total of 124 plays by both teams. (Brawley 52 and VC 72). Brawley had a twelve-play drive stall in which they were forced to punt.


A cramping Andrew Ortiz was unable to kick his usual long punts and Valley Center had the ball on their 29 yard line with 8:05 left in the game.


Brawley kept the Jaguars from moving the ball with a stalled drive at their own 44-yard line. It appeared to be time for the Wildcats to make a final scoring drive and perform an “Ice Challenge” of their own.


One play later quickly changed that as the Jaguars forced Nico to fumble and took over again, this time on their 34-yard line.


Eleven plays later, and using minimal time on the clock, DeLeon passed for a 16 yard TD to make the score an uncomfortable 35-21 with momentum swinging back.


There was 4:38 seconds left in the game as the Jaguars attempted an onside kick.


It traveled hard as it rolled and took a high hop into the waiting hands of Nathan Suits who covered it at the Brawley 38 yard line.


The heat was now starting to effect the home team as the Jaguars defense tightened up forcing the Wildcats to punt for a second time.


This time the Wildcat punt was blocked and Valley Center had outstanding field position at the Brawley 13 yard line with 3:13 left in the game.


DeLeon did his magic once again and pulled another TD out of his hat with a 5 yard pass to Luke Konyu. The score was now 35-28 just over three minutes to go in the game.


The Wildcats, expecting the onside once again, had Sophomore AJ Grijalva make a possible game saving play as he recovered the onside and gave the Brawley offense a chance to run the clock out.


Brawley used three plays to achieve the much needed first down to run out the clock to preserve to 35-28 victory.


This was the sixth opportunity for the Wildcats to beat the Jaguars. A determined Brawley football team was filled with too many thoughts of last week’s loss in which they felt they should have won.


Valley Center has become somewhat of an over the mountain rival. This win for the Wildcats should propel the young Brawley team with more confidence as it has four more games as host.


Next week the Knights of Shadow Hills of Indio will be in town. The Knights are 1-1 with a win last night over Palm Desert High School. Look for the preview next Thursday.



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