After three long road trips to begin the season, that included a scrimmage at Horizon, the Wildcats were finally the host team on Friday night. There are some things that can make a home opener even better. That included a plate from the Kickoff Barbeque that preceded the game, some Carne Asada Nachos from the snack bar during the game and a final score where the hosting Wildcats would be victorious.
But on this evening, a special 9-11 tribute that included honoring Brawley Hero Captain Scott Pace, proved to be the most inspirational and emotional season opener that I have witnessed in 40 plus years as a Wildcat fan.
The Brawley Wildcats were victorious over the Hawks of Gila Ridge, who made their first appearance on Warne Field. The final scoreboard read 41-7.
On their first drive after a return to its own 27 yard line, it seemed it might be a close game. Only through a penalty did the Wildcats achieve a first down as the Hawks defense allowed no more as they forced a Wildcat punt.
Wildcats defense returned the favor and forced Gila Ridge to punt after first converting a first down pass to the Brawley 41. That was only one of a few successful plays the Hawks were able to muster on offense, as the Wildcat defense was stingy to allow any positive yard.
Starting at their own 13 yard line, the Wildcats began their first of seven scoring drives. A combination of runs by Isaac Comparan, Zach Krigbaum, Bryce Alexander and Tanner Rollins led up to a 4th down 15 yard TD pass from Josh Godinez to Donavan Buck. A loud BOOM from the cannon on the sidelines would be the first of many to be heard. The PAT was good 7-0.
Brawleyâ€™s next drive followed three plays and a punt by the Hawks. The Wildcats began on their own 37 yard line. One play and 63 yards later they were in the end zone with 14 seconds left in the first quarter. PAT was again good 14-0.
Gila Ridge was able to shake off the Wildcats surge on their next drive where they converted a couple of first downs, one by way of a pass and the other on a long run to midfield. The next play knocked the wind out of them as they fumbled and the Wildcats recovered and begin another drive with great field position on their own 48 yard line.
One play later, another impressive hole paved by the offensive line, found Comparan in the end zone again. But a holding penalty negated the TD and Brawley resumed the drive deeper on their side of the field. It would take ten plays that sizzled out at the Gila Ridge 11 yard run with 4:58 left in the half.
The Hawks were able to gain a first down to their 22 but on a first down the Hawks gave up another fumble that landed in the waiting hands of Comparan who ran it in untouched for an 18 yard defensive score for the Wildcats. The PAT was good and it was 21-0.
The Wildcats started at their own 48 again after a Hawks three plays and a punt. Â The rock was handed to Isaac Comparan for seven of the next eight plays and with: 25 seconds left in the half the crowd heard the final boom of the half. The PAT was good and the Wildcats led 28-0 at half.
The beginning of the second half was a reflection of how the evening was for Gila Ridge. Winning the coin toss before the start of the game the Hawks would choose unwisely and kickoff to begin both halves. The Wildcats took advantage of the situation starting at their 43 yard line. A ten play drive included two runs by Zach Krigbaum, seven carries by Comparan and QB Godinez put the punctuation mark with a 9 yard run. PAT was good 35-0.
The best field position to start a drive began for the Hawks on the Brawley 45. They did not gain enough for a first down in three plays but during a punt a roughing the kicker by the Wildcats allowed the Hawks to have the ball on the 33 yard line. A couple penalties moved them back 14 yards leaving them with long yardage for a possible first down. Being rushed or sacked all night by the Wildcat defense, Brawley secondary took advantage of a QB miscue and Josh Godinez intercepted a pass at the 8 and returned it to the 31 yard line and shut down any hopes of a Gila Ridge score to that point.
Another Boom from the Cannon would be heard in two plays when Josh Godinez scored on a QB run of 71 yards. The PAT failed, the score was 41-0 with 2:13 left in the third and the clock was set to a running clock due to the big lead.
With the running clock in place, Gila Ridge used a 14 play scoring drive to prevent the Wildcat shutout. The scoring play came by way of a 17 yard pass with 4:09 left in the game. PAT was good and that was how it ended 41-7.
Coach Jon Self commented after the game, â€œWe executed the game well. We needed that win. We need a little boost. It was a good team effort all the way around.â€
Brawley will face a tougher Yuma opponent next week as the Cibola Raiders come to town, also a first for the Varsity squad from Arizona. The Raiders will enter with a 3-1 record with their loss being at the hands of the Imperial Tigers 21-14. In three wins they have outscored their opponents 136-9.