10/2/2012 5:00:00 PM Jackets rally for 13-12 win at Kofa
Randy Peterson Palo Verde Valley Times
BLYTHE - With their offense really struggling and their defense depleted because of suspensions, the Palo Verde High School Yellow Jacket football team found a way to pull off a 13-12 victory at Kofa High School in Yuma Friday night.
"We are really proud of the kids coming together and finding a way to win," said Jacket football coach, George Dagnino. "Although our offense is struggling we found ways to make plays when we most needed them."
Palo Verde's biggest offensive weapon proved to be the foot of junior kicker, Felix Ruiz, as he connected on a pair of field goals and a PAT to score seven points on the night. The second field goal came with just over five minutes to play in the final period and put the Jackets up 13-12.
KJ Bryant recorded his second pick six of the season atoning for a fumble on Palo Verde's first offensive play of the night as he intercepted the King's first pass of the night and returned it 98 yards for the game's initial score less than two minutes into the contest.
Kofa responded on their third possession with a quick 60-yard drive in just six plays for their first touchdown with 4:24 to play in the opening period. The Kings' PAT attempt failed and it proved to be the difference in the game.
The only other scoring in the first half came when Ruiz gave the Jackets a 10-6 advantage with just under two minutes to play in the second quarter when he connected on a 42-yard field goal, sending the Jackets to the intermission with the four-point edge.
Most of the game saw the Jackets struggle on offense and with five starters out due to suspensions and another going down early in the opening quarter on the defensive side, Coach Dagnino was pleased with the effort of his mostly inexperienced defenders.
"Defensively, our guys played really well," Dagnino said. "We were able to see more guys perform in pressure situations and that was a big positive for us."
The Jacket defense provided three other turnovers in the first half as freshman Gage Wright pounced on a fumble late in the first quarter and Ryan Shields picked off a pass in Kofa territory that set up the Jackets' first field goal. Shields then recovered another King fumble less than a minute later in Kofa territory but Ruiz' field goal attempt was blocked to end the second quarter.
The Jacket offense used three different quarterbacks in the opening half and managed just 26 yards of total offense in the first two quarters and barely over 100 yards in the game.
Kofa took their only lead of the night on their second possession of the final period as they used a seven play, 70-yard drive to score their second touchdown with more than seven minutes left in the contest but again, the Jackets blocked the PAT attempt. The Kings' drive was all on the ground as a tired Jacket defense saw their hosts use less than four minutes of game clock to go the distance.
Most of the Jacket offense came on one play in the ensuing Palo Verde drive as Ryan Galvan found Destin Cross for a 71-yard completion to the Kings' 10-yard line that set up Ruiz' winning kick.
A Roy Reid interception for the Jackets, the only turnover of the second half, ended the next King possession and a desperation attempt by Kofa in the final play ended the game.
Galvan finished the night with four completions in nine attempts for 86 yards while sophomore Logan Whiting connected on three of his five attempts for 15 yards.
Cross had four catches for 98 yards in the receiving department while Bryant netted three yards on his two catches.
Bryant led the rushing with 30 yards on 11 carries while Robert Angulo was good for six yards on seven carries but the Jacket ground attack suffered 13 negative yardage plays in 25 rushes on the night.
Alberto Louriero led the defense with seven solo stops, two for losses, and assisted on two other tackles while Reid was good for six solos and four helpers along with the interception and Josh Messerli managed seven tackles, six unassisted.
Marjerle Salazar had five solo tackles including a sack and another tackle for a loss as well as assisting on two other tackles while Nick George had seven stops, all unassisted.
Bryant had two other deflections along with a tackle and the pick while Shields nearly had a second interception late in the contest as well as a pair of tackles in the game
"We need to keep working and improving," said Dagnino. "Our league is as competitive as it ever has been and each week will be a challenge."
The Jackets will begin Imperial Valley League play this week in El Centro when they travel to Central. The Spartans and the Jackets each have 3-2 records in non-league contests.