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Hornets finally sting Holtville

September 30, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

CALIPATRIA — One of the first things Calipatria High football coach Stuart Black said to his team before the start of the second half of its game against Holtville here Friday was "24 more minutes gentlemen, 24 more minutes."

The message was short and simple, but was understood loud and clear.

Up 16-8 at halftime, it was 24 more minutes to a 3-1 record, 24 more minutes to a 1-0 Desert League record and 24 more minutes to Calipatria's first win over Holtville in more than 20 years.

In that 24 minutes the Hornets held the Vikings scoreless in a 22-8 victory.

"Our kids really played all four quarters tonight. Whatever we lacked in size and talent our guys made up in heart," said Black. "This was just a great win for our team. I really think the final score didn't belie what happened in the game."

What happened was a total domination in the second half. After giving up 160 yards (all rushing) to Holtville in the first half, the Hornet defense clamped down in the second, holding the Vikings to only 48 total yards (39 rushing). Calipatria also forced five turnovers, two on drives where Holtville drove in the red zone.

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"We just played a terrible game. There's no excuses. We just stunk," said Holtville coach Jim Sturgeon. "I thought our kids played hard, but they didn't play well. I know we're a lot better than that. I guess we're just going to have to learn from this."

The most significant containment by Calipatria's defense was of Holtville star running back, Frank Lopez. Entering the contest, Lopez had 421 yards rushing and racked up 91 more in the first half. He was held to only 22 yards the last two quarters.

"We knew that once we stopped him on the dive, then they'd have to go to the outside," said Hornet quarterback and defensive back Jacob Steele. "And we knew that if they were going to try to the outside, our defense would be quick enough to stop them.

"I really think our defense carried our team tonight. This win was because of all the players on defense and (defensive coordinator) coach (Jeff) Deyo," added Steele.

The Calipatria offense wasn't too shabby, either, finishing with 264 yards, all on the ground.

Leading the Hornets ground game were Brian Williams with 76 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown at the 5-minute, 51-second mark of the first quarter, Zach Taylor with 61 yards and Steele with 39 yards and a score.

The play Steele though was the difference was Zeke Navarro's 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter that broke an 8-8 tie.

Following a Jared Brady three-yard touchdown plunge and Lopez two-point run with 9:09 to play in the second quarter, Navarro returned the kickoff 85 yards. A two-point conversion by Taylor gave the Hornets a 16-8 advantage.

Said Steele, who scored on a 12-yard touchdown run with 3:04 to play in the game: "I think (Navarro's) touchdown was more important and made more of a difference. His broke the tie and mine came when we already had the lead. So his was pretty big."

Added Navarro, who also had two interceptions: "We were really ready for this game. I think we were just so hyped up for it. It was a big win for us. Knowing that some of these seniors had never beat Holtville, we (the underclassmen) did it for them."

Holtville (3-1, 0-1 DL) will host Palo Verde at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Calipatria (3-1, 1-0) will host Vincent Memorial at 7 p.m. Saturday.

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