CALEXICO — In the first game of the new school year, the Calexico Bulldogs hosted the Palo Verde Yellowjackets for the first non-league game of the new season Friday, August 20. The Bulldogs suffered defeat, 15-6 against Palo Verde Valley.
Both teams started off stronger defensively then offensively due to both offensive units yielding high turnover. There were several injuries throughout the game, which should see most players returned for the upcoming league season.
At the 11:45-minute mark, moments before the third snap of the game, Palo Verde quarterback Rion Albanez, #7, handed it off to Xavier Bejeran, #5. With 9 minutes left in the first quarter, Calexico quarterback Abram Zazueta, #22, threw an interception.
The Yellowjackets tried running the next play, but were stopped by Jose Lara, #5, defensive back. Ernesto Sanchez, #21, ran 6 yards to the 40-yard line, which was called for a holding on offense. Calexico suffered several penalties throughout the game, harming their final score. Closing out the first quarter, Calexico’s Zazueta threw an interception, which led to Palo Verde ending the quarter with no score.
Palo Verde started the second quarter with strong confidence going in.
With 7 minutes to go on fourth down, Calexico offense stopped Palo Verde’s Anthony Richards, #8. At 5:27 on fourth down in the second quarter, Palo Verde blocked Calexico's punt, leading to a safety in the end zone. Closing the quarter before halftime, Palo Verde led 2-0.
Tensions were high as both Calexico and Palo Verde saw team members forced to sit out after a disruption on the field.
Starting off halftime, Calexico kicked off, but was unable to get the ball out of their side, landing the ball at their own 30-yard line. This provided great field position to Palo Verde in the beginning of the half.
With the field position working in their favor, Palo Verde ran to score at the 9:12-minute mark, giving them the first touchdown of the game. At the 8:26 minute of the third quarter, Calexico fumbled the ball, leading Palo Verde to start from their own 40-yard line.
Toward the end of the third quarter with 3:59 remaining, Palo Verde kicked off return to Calexico. Moments after return, Calexico fumbled and Palo Verde recovered, giving them all the energy and momentum to take over in the game.
With 8:47 left in the quarter, Palo Verde’s Albanez threw an interception as Calexico’s Andres Ramirez, #3, returned the ball with yardage. Both teams struggled offensively with back-to-back turnovers with 5:16 left in the game.
With 3:56 remaining in the game, Calexico threw a touchdown but missed the point after touchdown (PAT). Calexico stopped Palo Verde with 21 seconds left in the game. Calexico quarterback David Esquer, #1, threw a 23-yard pass, which was incomplete, leading Palo Verde’s victory, 15-6.
"Some of the obstacles we faced was trying to overcome our mistakes. We had a lot of mental mistakes which killed our drives. Effort wise, I am extremely proud of them. They did everything we asked for as far as giving us 110 percent, defense played lights out. It’s just we have to put everything together as far as cutting out the mental mistakes once we put that effort and cutting down mistakes we will probably play at our full potential," said Calexico head coach Fernando Solano.