Southwest’s undefeated Eagles tackle Tigers

SOUTHWEST EAGLE (#11) Justin Cordova evades the Tiger front-line in Imperial on October 21. Photo by Lloyd Miller

IMPERIAL – The Southwest Eagles stifled the Imperial Tigers 34-6 at Shimamoto-Simpson Field Friday to remain undefeated and pull ahead in Imperial Valley League standings with two games remaining in the regular season.

At the onset of the first quarter, Southwest deferred possession and kicked off to the Tigers.

Four carries by running back Brandon Hueso and a pass from Joseph Tarango to wide receiver Santiago De La Torre moved the chains into Eagle territory on the opening drive.

On third and 11, the Eagles’ linebacker Grant Hansin broke through the Tigers’ offensive line and managed to take down the QB in the backfield for an 11 yard loss, and forcing a fourth and long punt situation.

Handoffs to Eagles backs Tyler Saikhon and Justin Cordova resulted in a 33-yard drive that began on Southwest’s own 38-yard line.

Saikhon capped off the drive with a nine-yard touchdown rushing sweep to put Southwest up 7-0 with 5:46 left to go in the first quarter.

Imperial’s offense stepped back onto the field for the second time, but two plays into the sequence, Derek Guzman picked off Tarango at the 40-yard line and carried the ball back to the Tigers’ 29-yard line where he put the cherry on his own dessert with a TD carry on the ensuing play. Twenty-six seconds after their first score, Southwest controlled with a 14-0 lead.

The Tigers had trouble finding their offensive rhythm as Hansink blew up another Imperial offensive possession with his second sack of the contest.

After the Tigers’ third punt of the night, Southwest gained possession at mid-field. The one-two punch of Saikhon and Cordova overwhelmed Imperial’s defense yet again, as the Eagles marched down to Imperial’s four-yard line when the whistle blew on the first quarter.

Saikhon started off the second quarter with a four-yard TD trot as Southwest claimed a 20-0 advantage after the missed extra point.

On their next possession, the Tigers clawed back when Tarango connected with De La Torre for a 23-yard scoring strike to make it a 20-6 ball game with 11:00 minutes to go before halftime.

Imperial’s defense buckled down and prevented any more Eagle damage in the first half and intermission arrived with the scoreboard reading 20-6.

The third quarter resembled the previous 11:00 minutes of the second period as neither team was able to produce a score, but two plays into the fourth, the Eagles’ Cameron Jungers snuck in a QB keeper to pull Southwest ahead by a margin of 27-6.

Eagles linebacker Jonathon Puga tallied a sack of his own to thwart the next Tiger drive that resulted in an eventual turnover on downs.

Saikhon put Imperial on ice as he ran in a six-yard finisher to stamp the 34-6 victory over the home team, Imperial Tigers.

“We’ll worry about playoffs when we get there, right now, we just want to be able to bang with the IVL heavy hitters like Brawley and Imperial,” Saikhon stated in a pre-season interview.

With the statistical powerhouses out of the way in Brawley, Central, and Imperial, the Eagles have two games remaining in the regular season, and have a chance to go undefeated outright — if they can maintain course throughout the rest of their IVL conference schedule. The Eagles will travel next to Palo Verde October 27 and the Tigers will have another hefty assignment in Brawley next week versus the Wildcats.