BRAWLEY — The Brawley Union High Wildcat football team hosted the Division III San Diego CIF playoffs’ first round Friday, November 8, as the Kearney High School Komets orbited the Imperial Valley with upset intentions. Going down 28-7 in the second quarter, some Brawley fans began leaving Warne Field. However, the Wildcats on the football field were not ready to call it a season just yet, as they scored the next 37 points for an incredible come-from-behind victory. The Wildcats were able to accumulate 440 yards of total offense against the Komets’ 286.
Receiving the opening kickoff, Komets were moving the ball well in their first possession until a fumble-jarring hit produced a turnover as Damian Reyes jumped on the loose rock.
The Wildcats didn’t score on its first play with Blake Krigbaum (24 carries for 202 yards and four touchdowns) but a smorgasbord of carries by him and Ethan Gutierrez (13 carries for 129 yards and two touchdowns) were all of seven yards or less. A 10-play drive netted 56 yards and controlled the clock by using almost five minutes of the first quarter. At 4:10, Brawley pulled ahead 7-0 after Xavier Perayda made the point after kick.
The kickoff produced a touchback to give the Komets 80 yards. Quarterback Mario Alves (three completions for 18 yards in seven attempts) suffered an injury to his throwing arm in the next series of downs. Backup quarterback Ty Childers entered the game where five plays later he completed an 11-play drive. The scoring play was a 23-yard pass to Olan Cazad. The game was tied at 7-7 with kicker Musashi Nozaki’s point after kick.
The Wildcats had a quick three plays to end the first quarter and punted on the first play of the second. The Komets again had 80 yards in front of them, but this time it was to take the lead in the game. On the second play, Dazere Paggett put them ahead on a 74-yard touchdown run. Another point after kick by Nozaki and the lead had changed to 14-7 with 10:57 remaining until halftime.
Another three plays and punt gave possession to Kearney on the Komets 45-yard line. It was a shorter field and Childers engineered another drive of eight plays. During the drive, Nathan Torrez had an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a game ejection.
Childers connected on another touchdown pass, this time to Nico Estrada for 18 yards. With 5:57 left until halftime, the Komets were ahead 21-7, but had not hit bottom yet for the Wildcats.
Kearney added another seven points following a first play Brawley fumble recovery on their third-yard line. The Komets took three plays to cover the short drive. It was 28-7 with 4:34 left on the scoreboard until the break.
Gutierrez and Krigbaum were a recipe for positive yardage but in small chunks. It was two huge passes by Gutierrez to Jesse James Gutierrez of 36 and 38 yards that ignited the turnaround. Getting to the Kearney eight-yard line with seconds winding down, Brawley was without time outs. A Krigbaum run to the five-yard line was followed by a called timeout for the Komets to stop the clock at 19 seconds. One play later, Krigbaum bulldozed his way into the end zone to cut the lead to 28-13. The extra point kick was blocked by the Komets and the 16 seconds were not enough for Kearney to make any scoring threat.
The opening kickoff to the Brawley Wildcats was a touchback, giving them an 80-yard long field to begin. Gutierrez’s first play appeared to be a simple handoff to Krigbaum that fooled everyone, but it was Gutierrez with the ball, and he was off to the races on an 80-yard touchdown that took only 14 seconds off the clock. Perayda’s point after kick was good and the lead for the Komets dwindled to 28-20.
The Komets failed to make a first down in three plays and were forced to punt. During the punt, an awkward formation brought the Kearney punter much closer than the usual ten yards back. On the snap of the ball, it was mishandled by Nozaki, and Chandler Self gave the Wildcats great field possession at the Komets’ 19-yard line.
Xavier Perayda kicked a 31-yard field goal, splitting the uprights down the middle to make the score 28-23 in the third quarter.
Brawley received possession with 6:46 left in the third quarter on a defensive stance that forced a Kearny punt. Starting at the Komet 49-yard line, the lead was now less than half the field away. Three big runs by Krigbaum got them to the 15-yard line. Gutierrez ran in untouched for his second touchdown of the game. With 4:49 left in the third, what looked like a blowout of 28-7 gave the Wildcats their first lead , 30-28.
Anthony Daniels darted 49 yards to the Brawley 41-yard line. Eleven offensive plays ran out the clock’s time of the third quarter and Kearney had the ball on the Brawley 13-yard line. Two plays into the fourth quarter still could not score a touchdown so the Komets attempted a 33-yard field goal. A bobbled snap by the holder and a late placement caused the strong-footed kicker Nozaki to pull the ball left as it missed the target and the points.
Blake Krigbaum took the first play 80 yards to the house and cashed it in for another touchdown. Krigbaum went the distance challenged only by one Komet defender whose only threat was slapping his ankles. The lead was now 37-28 with 10:54 left in the game.
The Wildcats took possession after a turnover on downs. It was on the Komets’ 39-yard line and took nine runs by Krigbaum, Gutierrez, and Damian Reyes. It not only gave the Wildcats a bigger lead, but it also took precious time off the clock down to 3:51 left in the game and a 44-28 lead.
All hopes for any type of comeback by the visiting Komets sizzled when Adrian Chavez was able to pick off a pass attempt by Childers. The Wildcats converted a crucial first down and were able to run the clock out in Victory formation.
The Brawley Wildcats remained undefeated at home this year with their sixth win at Warne Field. They will travel to second seeded Hilltop High School (9-1) to face the Lancers Friday, November 15 at 7 p.m.