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Hornets fall short in opener

September 01, 2001|By ROBERT FULTON, Special to this newspaper

CALIPATRIA — Imperial Valley high school football kicked off the 20001 season here Friday night as the Calipatria High School football team faced Antelope High of Welton, Ariz.

Calipatria still must wait for a victory, though, after losing to the Rams in a 22-20 barn-burner.

Calipatria was inconsistent except for a brief moment of excellent play in the third quarter.

Finding themselves down 16-6 early in the second half, the Hornets rallied with two scoring strikes in a three-minute period before the third quarter


"We knew we weren't going to win the way we were playing," said Hornet quarterback Jacob Steele, "so we stepped it up."

It was both the defense and the offense stepping up in the rally.

Calipatria first capitalized on an interception of Ram quarterback Tyrel Kelland by Manuel Contreras.

With the ball at Antelope's 20-yard line, it took only three plays for the Hornets to get back into the game. Zack Taylor ran for five yards, Reagan


Kaalehaki rumbled for 12 more and Steele sealed the deal with a three-yard run.

A failed two-point conversion attempt left Calipatria down 16-12.

The next Hornet score also was started on the defensive side.

Antelope had the ball on its next possession and faced a third and 10. Kelland went back to pass, but soon was greeted by Hornets Jay Watte and

Alex Fairley, who teamed for the sack. Antelope was forced to punt, giving Calipatria the ball in Rams' territory.

That was all Steele needed.

After a short gain by Kaalehaki, Steele sprinted 42 yards on a quarterback keeper up the middle for the touchdown. Alex Sanchez took the ball in on the two-point conversion, giving the Hornets a 20-16 lead at the end of the quarter.

That would not be enough for a victory.

With five and half minutes left, Kelland found Anthony Quintero for a 34-yard juggling touchdown catch, giving the Rams a 22-20 lead they would not relinquish.

It was clear the Hornets have a lot to work on as the season progresses.

"I was afraid our secondary would come back to haunt us," said Calipatria head coach Stuart Black. "Inconsistency comes with a youthful team."

"It's just a learning experience," Black said "… too many bad decisions on offense and defense."

Added Steele: "Our lines need a lot of work and our backs need to learn holes. That third quarter is the way we should play."

Steele had a huge game, rushing for 137 yards. Kelland was most effective in the air, throwing for 190 yards.

Both teams came out strongly to start the game, with the Rams scoring on a Kelland to Dagen Einspahr 41-yard throw at the end of the first quarter for an 8-0 lead after the conversion.

Calipatria responded with a strong drive that ended in Kaalehaki's five-yard score, making the game 8-6.

Kelland was on fire opening the third quarter, launching a touchdown strike to Stephen DeFries for a 16-yard score, increasing Antelope's lead to 16-6 before Calipatria got its game together.

Next up for the Hornets (0-1) is a trip to La Jolla Country Day at 3 p.m. Saturday.

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