Fall begins around September 22nd, each year, but on Friday night it arrived a few hours early for the visiting Cibola Raiders as they would (Fall) to the Brawley Wildcats 33-13. The score was not a true reflection of the game, by no means.
The action would be closer than the twenty point difference. There were a total of five lead changes in the game and both defenses played solid, but the final quarter revealed who craved the victory more. Some crucial defensive stops by the Wildcats in the second half proved to be the Achillesâ€™ heel for the Raiders.
Brawley received the opening kickoff and returned it to their 45 yard line to begin with great field position. Unfortunately they punted after three plays, but managed to pin the Raiders deep on their own 10.
Just as expected, Raidersâ€™ running back Jordan â€œStudent Bodyâ€ Mitchell carried the ball most of the game. It was â€œStudent Bodyâ€ left, right or up the middle. He earned first down yardage on his second carry, but the Raiders returned the favor and punted back to Brawley. With 6:59 left in the first quarter the Wildcats began drive two around midfield.
Isaac Comparan carried the ball five times for 21 yards to the Cibola 32 and Brawley faced a fourth and two. Going for it on fourth down was a gamble that paid off as they not only had a first down at the 27, but #27 Bryce Alexander ran for 27 yards on the next play for the first lead of the game, 6-0 after a Point after attempt missed to the right.
The Brawley defense held Cibola on their second drive but when a muffed punt by Brawley return man was recovered by the Raiders, Cibola resumed their drive.
Backed up to their 32 after a costly holding penalty, the Raiders didnâ€™t flinch as they were able to mix the pass with the run and extend their possession. The end of the first quarter founnd Wildcats up 6-0 and Raiders with the ball. Cibola sizzled out in three more plays and was forced to punt. Brawley received a fair catch at their own 10 and set out try to extend their lead.
Cibola defense kept the potent offense of the Wildcats from extending the lead and after another punt; the Raiders started at their 20. This drive provided lead change #2. Using an eleven play drive and marching 80 yards with the bulk of the plays going to Jordan Mitchell, Cibola led 7-6 after a converted extra point with 3:48 left in the half.
Brawley used twelve plays to try to regain the lead. Starting at their 29 yard line, they moved the ball as close as the 8 yard line of Cibola. A gamble that also paid off for the Wildcats during the drive was a fake punt that converted a 4th and 2. This allowed the Wildcatsâ€™ Alexander, Comparan and Godinez the opportunity to take the lead back. An incomplete pass on 4th and goal at Cibolaâ€™s 18, the Raiders were content to be on top, played it safe and took a knee for the clock to run out to end the half.
After the Brawley Pop Warner football teams introduced future players and cheerleaders, the second half began with the Raiders having the first chance at extending the slim 7-6 lead they held. A rested Wildcats defense had other thoughts in mind.
Three plays and a punt gave the Wildcats the ball at their 39 with 10:33 left in the third. Brawleyâ€™s version of â€œStudent Bodyâ€ left, right and up the middle was Isaac Comparan. His six straight carries were beneficial to the Wildcats moving the ball for positive yardage, but also allowed for a Tanner Rollins 11 yard TD run on play eight and a 12-7 Wildcat lead after a missed extra point attempt.
It was the next two possessions that proved to be the heart breaker for the Cibola Raiders. A drive that followed Brawleyâ€™s 12-7 lead, and third lead change, had the Raiders moving the ball at will with #25 Jordan Mitchell carrying the ball 9 out of 10 plays. Cibola reached the Red Zone and the Wildcats defense bent but did not break.
Â It was fourth and goal at the Brawley 8 and Cibola kicked a field goal to narrow the lead 12-10. Brawley defense had held and 3:18 remained in the third.
Brawleyâ€™s offense failed to gain a first down in three plays and Cibola defense forced a punt and earned an opportunity to take the lead again. 9 of 11 plays Jordan Mitchell took the Raiders to five yards from pay dirt. On fourth down, the fourth lead change occurred on a 32 yard field goal that split the upright, it was good. 13-12 Cibola now led with 9:08 left in the fourth.
A cool breeze began during the fourth quarter and seemed to rejuvenate the Wildcats defense. They had prevented two potential TDâ€™s that were converted by field goals instead. The lead may have been bigger for Cibola had the stingy defense from the Wildcats not prevented the touchdowns.
Another big blow to the Raiders was the kickoff after taking the lead. It went out of bounds and allowed great field possession at their 35 yard line. Cibola was unable to figure out who would get the ball on any of the next four plays. Bryce Alexander had two big runs, Comparan had a short gain, but the when Josh Godinezâ€™s QB option fooled just about everyone on the field, sidelines, stands and those listening to the game on the radio, he was off to the races and it was a 43 yard TD and the last lead change Â occurred. A 2 point conversion was good and the Cats lead 20-13 with 8:04 left in the game.
Cibola seemed to lose much of their momentum after two disappointing offensive and defensive series. It was most evident on their next drive as they were unable to convert a first down.
Â â€œStudent Bodyâ€ was not affective this time and after a timeout to consider a gamble of their own on a 4th and 2, the Raiders went for it, but Jordan was stopped short of a first down for no gain. It seemed that all night he had gained positive yardage on every one of his carries. Not converting the first down took the wind out of the Raiders as the Wildcats were four plays away from extending the lead to 26-13.
Josh Godinez scored after runs by Tanner Rollins and Bryce Alexander moved the ball to the 3rd and inches scoring play.
Down by two scores, the biggest point differential of the night, the bottom fell out when on the following kickoff it was muffed by an up man and the Wildcats had recovered at the Cibola 39 yard line. Comparan and Godinez moved the ball to the 4 yard line where Godinez scored the final TD from 4 yards out. With the point after good, the lead held at 33-13 after four straight incomplete passes by Cibola ended the game.
The Wildcats defense contained the potent Jordan Mitchell. The crowd heard the announcer repeatedly call out Wildcatsâ€™ Abraham Lopez, Isaiah Quiroz, Christian Gonzales, Richard Ramirez, Hunter Wharton and Tanner Rollins for tackles made.
They, along with the rest of the Brawley Wildcats will be facing the toughest test of the season next week. It will be a rematch against the visiting Spartans from Chula Vista. Chula Vista, a Division I school, will be entering the game with a 4-0 record. The teams they have beaten have a combined record of 1-15. Spartans have their starting QB, WR and RB from last season who gave the Wildcats headaches in a 35-7 win. It will be a double header that night as the undefeated JV team for the Wildcats will precede the Varsity game.