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Wildcats fall to Rajahs 22-13

September 08, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

BRAWLEY — Heading into its contest against Indio High, Brawley Union High School football coach John Bishop knew to earn the victory, his defense would have to stop Juan Torres.

The game plan was set, but a dose of 44 carries from Torres, coupled with two Brawley turnovers, translated into a 22-13 Rajah victory at Warne Field here Friday.

While Torres, who finished with 146 yards rushing, may have been the key to the Indio attack, two muffed punt returns by Mitchell Ruiz gave the Rajahs' field position in Brawley territory.

"We just weren't ready to play. We made mistake after mistake," said Wildcat coach John Bishop. "We couldn't even field a punt out there. There is just no excuse for the way we played tonight."

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If there was one player who stood out for Brawley it was running back Andy Buckner, who finished with 54 yards on 12 carries and accounted for both Wildcat scores.

Said Buckner: "We weren't prepared for this. We just made a lot of mental mistakes. I don't know what it was. I guess we just didn't take this game serious."

Down 14-13 late in the third quarter, the Wildcats drove to the Rajah 15-yard line. An Indio defensive stand accompanied by a Brawley penalty forced the Wildcats to attempt a 30-yard field goal. Dominic Aguirre lined up for the try, but shanked the ball to the left.

Indio answered with a 21-play, 80-yard drive capped by a Torres touchdown with 2 minutes, 42 seconds to play in the game. Torres, who ran the ball 15 times in the drive, converted a two-point conversion to give the Rajahs the 22-13 advantage.

"He's definitely our bruiser. He's our heaviest back and he likes to bruise those guys on the inside," said Indio coach Ovidio Machado of Torres. "Coming into this game we thought we'd get him at least 25 carries, but as the game went on he was getting more and more comfortable with certain plays. He just wanted to keep running it up in there.

"I think the way he played and the way our offensive line blocked were the differences in this game."

The Rajahs got on the board in the first quarter as Torres ran for 42 yards on nine carries and reached the end zone on a three-yard plunge with 19 seconds left in the first quarter. A Saul Martinez extra point gave Indio an early 7-0 advantage.

Brawley answered on the ensuing drive as it marched 75 yards down the field before scoring on a three-yard Buckner run with 6:35 left in the half. Aguirre added the extra point to tie the game at 7-7.

The Rajahs attempted to open up their offense as quarterback Larry Gutierrez took to the air. Unfortunately for him, he found Brawley's Bobby Myers on an interception.

Five plays after the turnover, Buckner went in for his second score of the night, a two-yard run at 7:56 in the third, to give the Wildcats a 13-7 lead. A high snap on the extra point only left Brawley a six-point lead.

The Wildcat defense forced Indio to punt on its ensuing drive, but a Ruiz mishandle gave the Rajahs the ball on the Brawley 31-yard line.

A Torres 22-yard rumble along with a Martinez extra point gave Indio a lead it would not relinquish.

"We knew what they were going to do, but we couldn't stop their running back. When we played them last year we stopped him, but for some reason we couldn't do it tonight," said Bishop. "I think this game proves that we have to be tougher. This is just a learning experience and hopefully our guys will take something away from it."

Brawley (0-1 overall) plays at Palm Desert at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

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