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Bulldogs put bite on Crims

September 08, 2001|By ROSS PRIEST , Special to this newspaper

YUMA — Calexico defensive back Manuel Gomez batted down Yuma quarterback Curtis Priest's pass with under 56 seconds left as the Criminals lost to Calexico 14-7 Friday at Doan Field here.

Yuma (0-2) twice had opportunities to tie the game in the fourth quarter but couldn't cross the goal line.

"We made mistakes at the wrong time," Yuma defensive coordinator Michael Garoutte said.

The mistakes weren't the normal yellow-flag variety — the Criminals only had one false start with 9 minutes 25 seconds remaining — but missed blocking assignments and fumbles.

The Bulldogs (1-0) scored late in the first quarter after Criminal running back Ryan Seale fumbled on Yuma's 21-yard line. Calexico quarterback Odin Ayala lofted a pass to Chris Ramsey for a 20-yard scoring strike for the Bulldogs first score but a failed two-point conversion kept Yuma ahead 7-6.

In the third quarter, Ayala struck again with an 18-yard scamper to the Criminals' 2-yard line. Javier Alatorre plunged in for the 2-yard touchdown to give the Bulldogs their first lead and the ensuing two-point conversion pushed the lead to 14-6.

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Twice the Criminals took possession in Bullfrog territory. Twice Calexico wouldn't let Yuma advance past the 16-yard line. With 2:12 left in the game, the Criminals took their final possession on the Bulldog 39-yard line. On the first play, Priest hit Eric Wright for a 16-yard gain. Priest tossed a short 4-yard out pattern to Steve Seale, who advanced to a 19-yard line. After an incomplete pass, Priest found Penny open on a dump pass but the senior couldn't break a tackle and left the Criminals facing fourth-and-three with 59.3 remaining.

"Give Calexico credit. They made the plays when they needed to," Garoutte said.

With only 29 Bulldog players on the varsity roster, the Criminals were hoping to wear down Calexico with a large dose of the run. But Calexico's defense wouldn't break.

"This was a big win for our program," Calexico coach Richard Gonzalez said. "We've being preaching all season about our off-season conditioning program. Our guys being conditioned kept us in the game."

The Criminals inept offense gained 165 total yards, only 82 on the ground. With the loss of fullbacks Brian Buland and Jared Elkins last week, the Criminals were trying different offensive looks but nothing seemed to work, not even shifting tight end David Robinson to a flanker position.

"We tried to stretch out their defense and get them out of the box," Garoutte said.

On the first play of the game, Calexico's Vicente Vasquez evaded two tackles and cut back to the open field for an 80-yard touchdown but it was called back on a clipping penalty.

"We made some first-game mistakes," Gonzalez said, "and we made it a little more exciting at the end."

Priest completed 10 of 20 passes for 83 yards with a 26-yard pass to Steve Seale the longest completion.

Criminal head coach Pat Rowe declined to comment on the loss.

The Bulldogs will be back in action at 7:30 p.m. Friday at home against Coachella.

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