Palo Verde rallies past Gila Ridge
Even though the Hawks' diminutive running back Javier Bon electrified the Gila Ridge crowd with three second-half touchdowns, it was Yellow Jackets quarterback Robby Shupe’s game-winning drive which propelled Palo Verde (Calif.) over Gila Ridge 36-31 Friday night.
The Yellow Jackets recovered a onside kick, and on the first play from scrimmage Shupe unloaded a 40-yard bomb to Anthony Teniente for his third touchdown of the evening.
Gila Ridge entered tonight’s contest looking for answers on defense after suffering a 54-35 loss to Perry last week. The Hawks (1-3) hoped some key players would return from injury to shore up the defensive unit and provide some assistance to an offense which is averaging an impressive 36 points per game.
The Yellow Jackets (3-1) arrived in Yuma hoping to continue their success on the road after defeating Montclair (Calif.) 26-21 a week ago. Last year, the Yellow Jackets were winless on the road, but wide receiver Anthony Teniente’s 164-yard performance snapped the losing streak to give Palo Verde its second win of the season.
Palo Verde (3-1) wasted no time in scoring first by driving 74 yards in only six plays. The drive was capped by a 25-yard touchdown pass from Shupe to Teniente, giving the Yellow Jackets a 7-0 lead with 9:38 remaining in the first quarter.
On the ensuing drive, the Hawks (1-3), powered by running back Kelvin Harold, plowed their way to the Yellow Jackets' 14-yard line, only to be undone by a holding penalty and a Mike Pancrazi interception in the end zone.
After holding the Yellow Jackets to a three and out, the Hawks returned to Harold, who gained more than 60 yards on the drive and punctuated his performance with a bruising 8-yard touchdown run in which he carried two Yellow Jacket defenders with him into the end zone. The extra point failed and the Hawks trailed the Yellow Jackets 7-6 with 2:33 left in the first quarter.
When the second quarter began, the Yellow Jackets again found themselves deep in Gila Ridge territory. After a pass interference call on Gila Ridge, Shupe’s pass was deflected into the waiting hands of a Yellow Jacket receiver who then proceeded to lunge across the goal line for a 9-yard touchdown, extending Palo Verde’s lead to 14-6 with 10:20 remaining in the half.
For the rest of the quarter the two teams exchanged failed drives until Palo Verde broke the stalemate with a 51-yard touchdown pass to Teniente, giving the Yellow Jackets a 21-6 lead at halftime.
Gila Ridge quickly cut Palo Verde’s lead in the third quarter when running back Javier Bon broke a 40-yard touchdown, placing the Hawks within striking distance at 13-21.
After a Yellow Jacket botched punt, which put Gila Ridge on the Palo Verde 45-yard line, Pancrazi found L'Jey Younger for a 38-yard strike to Palo Verde’s 3-yard line. On the next play, Bon plunged 3 yards for the score. The Hawks converted the two-point conversion, tying the game at 21-21.
On the Hawks' next possession, Pancrazi drove the offense to the Yellow Jackets' 18-yard line, where Bon kicked a 35-yard field goal to give the Hawks their first lead in the game 24-21 with 8:37 remaining in the game.
After Shupe fumbled the ball deep in his own territory, Bon scampered 21 yards for his third touchdown of the evening, increasing the Hawks' lead to 31-21.
The Yellow Jackets added a 32-yard field goal with 5:52 left in the fourth quarter to shorten the Hawks' lead to 31-24.
On the Yellow Jackets' next possession, Shupe led his team 75 yards in 1 minute, 33 seconds, culminating in a 6-yard touchdown pass to Teniente. The 2-point conversion failed and the score was 31-30, but the Hawks did not remain in the lead for long.
Gila Ridge faces Phoeinx-Pinnacle next week at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m.