Bulldogs fall to Coachella 28-6

September 16, 2001|By JON HINSHAW, Sports Writer

CALEXICO — It took more than a quarter for the Coachella Valley and Calexico high school football teams to get a feel for each other Friday, but once Coachella found its groove it pounded Calexico here 28-6.

An interception and 38-yard runback for a touchdown by the Arabs' Jerry Contreras' sparked his squad three minutes into the second quarter. Coachella scored on three of its next five possessions before the Bulldogs could get on the scoreboard.

While the Arabs (1-1 overall) went on their spree, Calexico (1-1) struggled to retaliate. The Bulldogs had just 11 plays go more than five yards and accumulated a paltry 137 yards of offense — 76 passing and 61 rushing.

Quarterback Odin Ayala tossed four interceptions that kept a tired Calexico defense on the field.

"I think we tried to do too much and that old adage ‘paralysis by analysis' hurt us," said Bulldog coach Richard Gonzalez. "We're using a different passing game this year and we may have had (Ayala) trying to do too much."


Ayala was just 9 of 23 passing and Calexico was routinely out of sync on its patterns, with three of the four interceptions coming with Ayala's receivers not even looking for the ball. The Bulldogs also lost a fumble and were flagged for 12 penalties resulting in 101 yards lost.

"We're going to have to work on some things and give our team something they can work with better," Gonzalez added. "We also need to establish our running game better as well. (Coachella) came out tonight and set the pace of the game at the line of scrimmage."

The contest looked like it would be a defensive struggle for the long haul after a first quarter full of hard hits and defensive stands. Possession of the ball changed six times in the first 12 minutes alone before the Arabs capitalized on Contreras' interception and touchdown for a 6-0 lead.

Calexico's offense took the field, but a pair of penalties, a short gain and an incomplete pass forced the Bulldogs to punt. Coachella then went on an 80-yard drive in eight plays, capped by a 16-yard score by Marco Rico to move ahead 12-0. Arab quarterback Richard Romo tacked on two points when he connected with a wide-open Cassidy Pensis to establish a 14-0 score about three minutes before halftime.

The intermission may have been a short respite for the Bulldog defense, but once the second half started Coachella went right back to work. The Arabs mounted another strong drive, this time 68 yards in nine plays, to push their lead to 21-0. Contreras capped the drive with a six-yard leap and score, which was followed by Jose Rosales' extra point.

"The thing that got us physically unprepared was being on the field too long," said Calexico linebacker Raul Ochoa. "Coachella was really prepared to play us."

Before the ensuing kickoff, the Bulldogs had not set foot in Arab territory but was changed when Manuel Gomez returned the kick 43 yards to the Coachella 49-yard line. Calexico couldn't take advantage of the run as running back Vicente Vasquez fumbled on the first play from scrimmage.

Four minutes later the Arabs were in the end zone again.

A 22-yard pass from Romo to wideout Derek Carlton and another extra point from Rosales with just under three minutes remaining in the third period made the score 28-0.

"We were really scared of them after the way they handled Yuma last week," said Coachella coach Eric Burgess, referring to Calexico's 14-7 win. "We prepared for them the best we could and they didn't do anything that surprised us. We also played well offensively. Our quarterback played the position well and made things happen for us."

A shutout looked imminent for the Arabs as its secondary and defensive line were still causing problems for the Bulldogs. Despite being on the field for 24 of the game's first 36 minutes, Calexico's defensive line mustered enough strength to break through and block a punt early in the fourth quarter to give the Bulldogs a first and goal from the Arabs' 4-yard line.

It took all four downs, but Ayala finally found some running room to the outside keeper and leapt into the end zone for six points. A penalty on Calexico killed the extra point attempt, leaving the score 28-6.

The Bulldogs had just one more offensive possession and drove to midfield after four straight completions by Ayala, but a penalty and two dropped passes ended the charge.

"We just need to keep it simple and execute the basic plays 100 percent," said Ochoa, who carried three times for two yards. "We have to focus on keeping our offense on the field and our defense off it."

Calexico will remain at home for its next contest against Imperial at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

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