YUMA — For the third consecutive week, the Brawley Union High School Wildcat Varsity football team took the 3:10 to Yuma (Arizona) for a Friday night match up under the lights. The Gila Ridge High Hawks hosted the Wildcats in hopes of earning their first win against Brawley.
Forty-four has been a magical number for this contest the past couple of years as Brawley has come out victorious with identical scores of 44-0. That number again appeared, but this time in the combined score of a Wildcat victory of 33-11.
The 22 point difference might indicate an easy win for the Wildcats, but it was far from effortless. For the first time in three years, the Hawks scored its first points against a Wildcat defense and Gila Ridge kept it close going into the fourth quarter, down by only three. Unfortunately for the Hawks, they cashed in just one field goal on the two Wildcat fumbles recovered in the game.
The Wildcat defense held the Hawks to a total of only 148 yards, of which 135 were rushing and 13 were passing. Brawley’s offense again went over 400 yards with 416 (370 rushing and 46 passing) to improve their record to 3-1.
Both teams opened the game with three and out punts, but the Wildcats’ second drive had much better results. Starting at their own 29-yard line, Casey Kline (16 carries for 162 yards and 3-6 for 46 yards passing) quickly put the ball on the Hawks’ 27-yard line with a 44-yard run. Three plays later, Michael Moreno (23 carries for 170 and three touchdowns) put the first points on the scoreboard with a 21-yard run. The point after was good and Brawley led 7-0 with 6:25 left in the first quarter.
After the Hawks earned one first down on their second drive, they punted to the Wildcats and Brawley began at their 36. One big pass play from Kline to Fernando Razo of 19 yards was followed by a fumble that the Hawks recovered, placing the ball on their own 36.
Six plays for Gila Ridge took it quickly into the second quarter. The Hawks’ drive stalled and they backed the Wildcats deep into the 14-yard line. Four plays later, the Brawley offense gifted another turnover by way of a fumble and handed the ball to Gila Ridge on the Wildcat 30 yard line.
A seven play drive netted 19 yards, but the Hawks had to settle on a 28-yard field to score their first points. With 5:22 left until halftime, it was a slim 7-3 Brawley lead.
Both teams exchanged punts before the half ended with neither team making a legitimate threat to score, and at the halfway point, it remained 7-3 for the Wildcats.
Gila Ridge had the ball first in the second half, but the offense sputtered and after a quarterback sack by Casey Kline, they were forced to punt. The Wildcats orchestrated a six-play drive of 41 yards in which Moreno scored his second touchdown on a nine-yard run. It was 14-3 with 6:53 left in the third quarter.
The Hawks’ offense found success on their next possession with a 71-yard drive in only four plays. It was capped off with the longest run by an opponent against the Wildcat defense this season by Ty Dehart for 53 yards. They opted to try the two-point conversion and their gamble paid off with a Ty Moreno run that produced a 14-11 score at the 4:27 mark of the third quarter.
The Wildcats began their next drive at the 25-yard line, hitting all cylinders as they moved the ball 54 yards on eight plays, but they sputtered as it moved into the fourth quarter.
Gila Ridge had the ball and another chance to take the lead with 11:47 left in the game at their own 21-yard line. Once again, they could not muster enough offense to get a first down and were forced to punt it back to the Wildcats.
Up by only three points with 9:35 left in the game, the Wildcats’ runaway began. An eight-play drive of 64 yards that ate up almost three minutes of the clock would end in an eight-yard run by Isaac Garcia for his first touchdown of the season. The Brawley lead increased to 20-11 with 6:45 left in the game.
Gila Ridge found themselves deep on their side of the field at their own nine-yard line. The Wildcat defense forced another three and out, giving Brawley great field position at the Gila Ridge 24 yard line after a short punt.
Less than a minute and two plays later, Moreno scored his third touchdown of the game on a 25-yard run. Ivan Jauregui made the point after kick to increase the score to 27-11.
Brawley scored one more time on a three-play drive of 60 yards after its defense forced the fifth punt by the Hawks. The last score was a long 43 yard run by Casey Kline to seal the win for the Wildcats 33-11.
Brawley hosts its first home game in five weeks against the Morse High Tigers in a Division II battle on Warne Field next Friday at 7 p.m. The Tigers are 2-2 with wins over Mount Miguel and Hoover. Their losses are to powerhouse Oceanside and Chula Vista. This will be the last game for Brawley before they begin the run to defend the IVL Title.