BRAWLEY – The Gila Ridge Hawks’ team bus rode through storms enroute to Warne Field, but it was the Wildcats’ offense and defense that provided the “Thunder and Lightning” on the football gridiron. Brawley’s dominant defense and electric offense all but eliminated any hopes of a Gila Ridge win. By the end of the evening, the Wildcats had accumulated 442 yards rushing, with two over 100 yards each in the game. The final seconds ticked off the scoreboard showing a lopsided win of 49-13 and skies in the opposite direction were applauding the performance.
The Wildcats’ success appeared doubtful when their first drive stalled without a first down and they were forced to punt. Two minutes into the game, Gila Ridge’s scoring drive began from the Wildcats’ 43 yard line and within three minutes they had the lead. With seven plays, QB Brandon Kehl moved his offense convincingly and Michael Richeson ran the last five yards for a 7-0 TD. It was the first lead against the Wildcats since the season opener.
The lead lasted less than twenty seconds, though, when after the kickoff, and on the very first play from scrimmage, Ross Rubio blew by the Hawks defense for a 77-yard TD run. Omar Celis provided a perfect night of extra points with his first of seven to tie the score 7-7 with 5:52 left in the quarter.
On their second possession, the Hawks soon learned the rest of the game would not be as fortunate as their first drive. After one first down, QB Kehl threw his first of three interceptions midfield into the waiting hands of AJ Grijalva, who gave the Wildcats great field position returning it to Gila Ridge’s 30 yard line.
The Wildcats’ Andrew Ortiz (189 yards on 15 carries) handed Brawley the lead four plays later with his first of two TDs on the night. At the 3:02 mark it was Brawley 14-7.
Hawks QB Kehl was hit with another interception two plays into their next drive. Having recorded two interceptions in the game, Nathan Suits grabbed his first one at 2:47, and just 15 seconds later again to give the Wildcats great field position. Those two interceptions and great defensive plays secured him “The Rock”, presented to him after the game. Then it was Sophomore Austyn Gutierrez with one play, a 25 yard TD run to increase the score to 21-7. Gutierrez ended the game with 157 yards on 14 carries. He had three touchdowns in the game.
Gila Ridge mustered enough to get one first down in their next drive, managing to take it into the second quarter. When they were forced to punt, the Wildcats had the ball back with 11:04 left at their 24-yard line. From the 24 it was number 24 Andrew Ortiz for his tumultuous runs. Seventy-six yards later the Wildcats were up 28-7 with 10:53 left in the half.
The Hawks were in a cyclone of Wildcat scores that had erupted as quickly as summer storms in the desert. They were hit with one more turnover when Nathan Suits grabbed his second interception and gave Brawley great field possession at their own 42-yard line. The tables were turned two plays later as the Wildcats handed it right back with their only turnover in the game. The Hawks failed to capitalize on this gift and the Wildcats began their last scoring drive of the half.
It took nine plays for the Wildcat offense to march from their 36-yard line to the end zone from the 7:11 mark to the 1:45 of the second quarter. The final run came from Ross Rubio with a QB keeper one yard out. The half time score was 35-7.
The second half had three scores, Brawley twice and Gila Ridge once. The first score did not begin until both teams had the ball twice. At 4:13, the Wildcats began their first of those two TDs. With a short field ahead of them, they started at the Hawks 41 yard line. It took ten plays to achieve the 42 -7 lead when Austyn Gutierrez crossed the goal line on a three-yard run.
Gila Ridge’s next drive would begin at their 30-yard line and it took seven plays for the Hawks. The big play came on a 37-yard TD pass from Kehl to Isaac Monteon who managed to get behind the secondary. The strong arm of Kehl rewarded the Hawks with a score and they trailed 42-13 with 1:02 left in the third quarter. The point after was blocked by Andrew Ortiz.
Both teams possessed the ball twice more in the final quarter. Brawley utilized many dry jerseys, substituting the reserves to give the starters a much-needed rest. In their second drive, with a fresh offensive line, Austyn Gutierrez broke free up the middle on a 52-yard TD run for the “Hat Trick” (his third TD of the game). The score remained 49-13 the remainder of the game to give the Wildcats a 4-1 record.
The Brawley Wildcats will not play next week as they are on a “Bye.” In two weeks they will begin their quest for the Imperial Valley League Title. The first step towards that goal is a Homecoming game against the Southwest Eagles at 7 pm October 10 at Warne Field.