BLYTHE - The Brawley Union High School Wildcats traveled to Blythe for another Thursday evening football contest Oct. 4 to take on the hosting Yellowjackets of Palo Verde High School.
Mimicking signs of tropical storm Rosa in and around the city of Blythe, the Wildcats stormed the field, scored quickly with a lightning strike for the first points of the game, and rained six touchdowns in a 41-3 Wildcat victory that improved their record to 6-1 for the season.
It is estimated it took seven seconds for the first Wildcat’s touchdown, but the actual time will remain a mystery. Brawley scored so quickly that the scoreboard operator never started the clock on the opening kickoff by the Jackets.
It was an onside kick attempt to catch the Wildcats off guard. It didn’t faze Jon Gonzalez, as the almost perfect roll with a high bounce was caught by the Wildcat up-man in perfect stride and he raced virtually untouched for the first points of the game. The clock was allowed to catch up before the point-after attempt sailed wide right by Xavier Perayda and Brawley led 6-0.
The Yellowjackets found success early with a 10-play drive that achieved two first downs and reached the Wildcat 43-yard line, but were forced to punt. This put the Wildcats on their 21-yard line to start their second possession of the game with 6:11 remaining in the first quarter.
With a starting quarterback change, due to a season-ending injury at practice for Casey Kline, the Wildcats were now ready to begin a new phase as Jacob Ramirez (10 carries for 68 yards and 3-6 passing for 59 yards) was now behind center to command the offense.
The dominant offensive line in Jaxon Ray, Hayden Ray, Ricky Avila, Henry Thomas, Javier Martinez and Daniel Caloca helped him in the transition, as did the 6-0 lead the special teams provided to welcome him.
With three of his five carries in the game, Michael Moreno (5 carries for 60 yards and two receptions for 47) got 50 of his rushing total on the first drive. A four-yard run with 2:28 in the first quarter gave Brawley a 13-0 lead after the point after attempt was successful by Perayda.
Palo Verde took it into the second quarter after only one first down, but the Wildcats took over with 11:10 left in the half. Brawley was quick to make two first downs, but were also forced to punt it back to the Jackets less than three minutes later.
The Jackets had their longest drive of the game to that point, accumulating 11 plays on the drive. Game-leading rusher, Zac Reynolds (22 carries for 76 yards), got them to the Wildcat 31-yard line where a 48-yard field goal was attempted on fourth down. The kick was short, wide right and kept the Wildcat defensive shutout intact.
The Brawley offense began an 80-yard scoring drive with 2:27 left until the half. Ramirez carried four times for 21 yards and connected to Moreno for an 11-yard pass. A 14-yard Moreno run was followed by a Nathan Godinez (5 carries for 43 yards and two touchdowns) 19-yard touchdown run sweeping around the right side of the line. This sent the game into intermission and the Wildcats were up 20-0.
The Wildcats kicked off to the Jackets to open up the second half. A strategically placed pooch kick (short and high) was left unattended by Palo Verde special teams players, and a speeding Gonzalez did his magic once again recovering the loose rock.
It gave Brawley the ball at the 27-yard line of the Jackets and it took seven plays to increase the lead to 27-0. The score was another Godinez touchdown run, this time of eight yards, with 9:13 showing on the clock.
The special teams were having a rough evening that night for Palo Verde. The next kickoff was nearly turned over again as a Jacket player muffed a fair catch call, but they recovered it to start at their 27-yard line. They met a tougher Wildcat defense in the second half as they were held to a negative nine yards rushing on 10 carries. No first downs and a punt gave the Wildcats another opportunity to increase the lead.
Starting at their 46-yard line, the Brawley offense was forced to a quick three and out (punt) and the Yellowjackets would do the exact same thing. After the punting exchange, the Wildcats scored on a one-play drive with Blake Krigbaum (three carries for 69 yards and) barreling into a 52-yard touchdown run. Slipping through tackles and sprinting away to the house, it was 34-0 with 2:29 left in the third quarter.
Palo Verde was racing time as it went into the running clock mode, also known as the mercy rule. They were able to get their first first-down of the second half, but Zac Reynolds was stripped of the football at the end of his run and Nathan Torrez (the turnover specialist) recovered the ball at the Jackets' 40-yard line.
Three minutes into the running fourth quarter clock, the Wildcats capped off their scoring for the evening with a 36-yard pass from Ramirez to Moreno. The scoreboard showed 41-0 and the time counted down.
Plenty of dry jerseys for the Wildcat defense were now defending the shutout possibility as the Jackets began on their 22-yard line. With 78 yards separating them from a touchdown, the defense only allowed 75 of them to be made in 14 plays, including a defensive pass interference call in the end zone as Palo Verde High fans anticipated a touchdown score.
With a first down at the Wildcat three-yard line and two timeouts, the Yellowjackets ran for negative two yards on two runs and had an incomplete pass.
They used their last timeout of the game to set up a field goal to prevent a scoreless effort for the game. The kick sailed through the uprights, and although the scoreboard operator never entered the points on the scoreboard, the final was 41-3 in favor of the Brawley Wildcats.
The Wildcats improved to 6-1 and are in second place behind the first place Bell-Ringing Central Spartans, and Brawley will have two more games to put the pieces together. They return home Friday October 12 for Homecoming and will host the defending 2017 IVL Champion Southwest Eagles at 7 p.m.