The Brawley Union High School Wildcats varsity football began their part one trilogy of Arizona trips Friday as the Yuma High School Criminals hosted the ‘Cats. Â The Wildcats were entering the game with a 0-1 record facing a Yuma team with two wins and no losses.
Brawley was coming off an early season “Bye” week giving them two weeks to prepare for the journeys across the state line. The statistics of the game showed a major domination of the ground game by one team but sloppy play, mental mistakes and turnovers gave the Criminals hope of stealing a victory. Yet, Yuma would not remain undefeated and the Wildcats evened their record to 1-1 with a 27-3 victory.
Brawley built up a 20-3 lead after only 12 offensive plays and huge runs by Michael Moreno (16 carries for 262 yards and four touchdowns) keeping the Wildcats a step ahead of Yuma the entire game.
The Wildcats began the game kicking off with Brawley’s defense quickly forcing a punt by the Criminals. Fielding the ball on his 30-yard line, Wildcat Nate Godinez returned it for 23 yards to the Yuma 47. A personal foul penalty added 15 more yards and gave Brawley its first drive at the Yuma 32-yard line.. Five plays later, Wildcat Moreno scored on a one-yard plunge for the first points of the game with 7:06 remaining in the first quarter. The point after by Ivan Jauregui made it 7-0.
The Criminals fared better on their next drive that began on their 42-yard line. Yuma used a 10 play drive and just over four minutes of the clock to score. Beginning at their 42-yard line, penalties by both teams moved the ball back and forth as the Criminals reached the Brawley 23-yard line. On fourth down, they attempted a 40-yard field goal and scored their first and only points of the game. With 3:57 left in the first, the score was 7-3.
For the game, Brawley’s total offensive yards were unofficially 406 of which 397 were on the ground. A big 46-yard run by Moreno ignited a three-play drive of 51 yards after Brawley recovered an attempted onside kick by Yuma.. The score came with 2:33 left in the first and was now 14-3.
Yuma began its next possession at their four-yard line and used the arm and legs of Isaac Ignacio (13 carries for 39 yards and 10-22 for the 79 passing yards). The drive was extended on a Wildcat encroachment penalty on fourth and four giving the Criminals a fresh new set of downs. Yuma was unable to move the ball further than the Wildcat 40 yard line and punted to Brawley where they pinned the Wildcats on their six-yard line.
Brawley’s first play immediately had them deep in Yuma territory after an 81-yard sprint by Moreno. A 17-yard run by quarterback Casey Kline (16 carries for 77 yards) got them to the one-yard line where Moreno scored his third touchdown of the game. The extra point was blocked, making the score 20-3 with 5:30 left in the half.
Yuma produced only one first down on its next drive before punting to the Wildcats. An exchange of turnovers marred both teams before the halftime break.
A fumble at the Yuma 26-yard line prevented the Wildcats from increasing the lead. It was followed by an interception by Casey Kline where the Wildcats had three more plays but the clock struck 0:00 and the score remained 20-3 at the halfway point.
Brawley received the ball to start the third quarter where they quickly punted after four plays. Yuma repeated what the Wildcats had just done but another Brawley mistake or a great acting job by the Criminals’ punter, extended their possession when a roughing the kicker was called on the Wildcats. Yuma couldn’t cash in on the lucky break as they punted again giving Brawley the ball on their 16 yard line.
This drive by the Wildcats reached its eighth play as they moved the ball to the Yuma side but a fumble gave the ball to the Criminals on their 40 yard line. Four plays later a turnover on downs gave it right back to Brawley at the Yuma 28 yard line after a bad snap on the punt by the Criminals. A four play drive was all it took for Brawley to score its last points of the game. Three runs by Kline and the fourth touchdown by Moreno on the the first play of the fourth quarter increased the lead to 27-3.
The Wildcats and Criminals traded possession, turnovers and penalties in the fourth quarter but neither team was able to put points on the board. Yuma finished with 162 total offensive yards on 54 plays while the Wildcats used 47 plays to cover 406 yards. Brawley had 22 first downs to Yuma’s 12. Unfortunately Brawley also led in the turnover (3) and penalty columns 13-120 yards.
Brawley will make another trip to Yuma next Friday when they will be hosted by the Cibola High Raiders. Cibola also got a taste of victory as they beat their rival Gila Ridge High Hawks last night. Cibola put 59 points on the scoreboard last year at Warne Field in Brawley and should make for an interesting evening on the 15th. Congrats to the Wildcats players and coaches on their first victory of the season.