YUMA — Two teams moving in opposite directions this season made a drastic change of course when the Brawley Union High Wildcat football team prowled into Gila Ridge High here Friday night.
The Wildcats entered with a 1-3 record while the Hawks were 4-1 before the opening kickoff. Brawley cashed in on five interceptions and one fumble to convert them into 44 points for a 44-0 shutout win over Gila Ridge on the night of their Homecoming.
A stingy Brawley defense allowed less than 100 yards of offense to be gained by the hosting Hawks. Wildcats’ ground game pounded their totals to over 300 yards on 45 carries. Nathan Suits led in rushing with 26 carries for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback A.J. Grijalva had his best game of the year, breaking into the century mark with 107 yards on only six carries. He not only scored his first touchdown of the season, but also added one more for good measure. Austyn Gutierrez also had two touchdowns with 17 yards on 6 carries.
Brawley’s first score came on their first drive of the game after a Hawk’s punt. An eight play drive used three and a half minutes of the clock ending in a 14-yard touchdown run by Suits to make the score 7-0 with 4:40 left in the first quarter.
It would take only three plays to get the ball back for the Wildcats when Kevin Kastner was able to snatch a loose fumble for great field possession at the Hawk 34-yard line. Three plays later Gutierrez improved the score to 14-0 on a 12-yard run, still in the first quarter.
The next gift for Brawley was an interception by Daniel Crankshaw on Gila Ridge’s second play of their next drive. The Wildcats only needed 11 yards to score and they did with: 58 seconds left in the first. Gutierrez scored his second touchdown on the second play and it was a 21-point lead.
At the 3:46 mark of the second quarter, the Wildcats found themselves in the end zone on a five-play drive that went for 56 yards. This was a drive dominated by Grijalva. Three runs of 14 yards each had him scoring on the third one with less than a minute left in the half. This was his first TD of the game for a 28-0 lead at the break.
The second half found the Wildcat secondary grabbing four more interceptions. Moises Lazos hit the trifecta with three picks. Kevin Kastner was able to turn his interception into six points with a 32-yard return midway through the third quarter for a 35-0 lead. Kicker David Quintero added three points on a 35-yard field goal with 1:06 left in the third quarter. Three plays later, Lazos’ third take away gave the Wildcats a short field and twenty yards from their final score. In only took three plays and Wildcat Suits was able to increase the lead to 44-0 for the final score on the second play of the fourth quarter. The big lead resulted in a running clock, thus ending the game 11 minutes later.
The big momentum swing for the Wildcats was a much needed victory and boost for Brawley. They will have a “Bye” next week then defend the IVL Title they won last year. Their first opponent will be the undefeated Southwest High School Eagles in El Centro who improved their record to 5-0 with a big win over the Yuma High Criminals 27-7. The Eagles are looking to avenge the one that got away from them last year in Brawley. Watch for more about this game and the upcoming Eagle-Wildcat matchup on “After Further Review” later this week.