"We made ourselves a better team tonight," Tehachapi High School varsity football coach Steve Denman told his players Friday after Burroughs defeated the Warriors 34-28.
Two different Warrior teams took the field Friday. At the start of the game, the same team that was roughed up by West High a week ago in a non-scoring scrimmage took the kickoff and spotted the Burros to a 27-6 lead before the half.
After the break, a "Mountain Football" team took the field and outscored Burroughs 22-7 while coming within six points of tying the game. The THS defense also came alive in the second half, making a great goal-line stand late in the fourth to keep the chance of a comeback in the minds of Warriors fans.
"I thought, this is going to be a barn burner," Burroughs head coach Jeff Steinberg said. "It was not where we wanted to be."
Turnovers were a key in the loss as the Warriors fumbled four times and threw an interception. Two THS fumbles in the second quarter led to Burroughs' touchdowns and the second-quarter interception canceled a 13-play, 44-yard drive at the BHS 24-yard line.
The Warriorsą only touchdown in the first half came on their first offense drive that started on the three-yard line. Warrior ball carriers Tanner Hutchinson, Jeremy Clark and Mike Wright chipped away at the BHS defensive with Hutchinson scoring his first of three TDs on a one-yard run up the middle. Hutchinson finished the game with 101 yards on 19 carries. A flea flicker pass play kept the drive on track when Kris Haycock took a pitch out and passed to Josh Lange on a fourth and nine to reach the BHS two-yard line. Clark finished the game with 87 yards rushing on 11 carries. Wright tallied 29 yards on seven carries.
Burroughs keyed their offense on a pair of speedsters, senior wide receiver Anthony Celestine, touted as a Division I prospect, and junior running back Matt Williams. Celestine caught seven passes for 141 yards and scored twice. Williams finished with 10 carries for 122 yards including an 80-yard TD in the first quarter.
Burroughs opened the game with a solid offensive march down field, hitting five of five passes to score at 7:34 of the first. Tehachapi answered with its only successful drive of the half but the home crowd elation was short lived when the PAT failed, followed by a BHS touchdown on their next play from scrimmage, Williams' 80-yard run. Burroughs scored twice in the second to lead 27-6 at the break.
In the third quarter, Tehachapi took the opening kick off and went three and out. Burroughs then connected with Celestine on a 48-yard touchdown for what would be the Burros' last TD of the game as "Mountain Football" came alive.
Tehachapi started an 80-yard drive to turn the momentum in favor of the Warriors. Highlights in the drive included a nine-yard pass from quarterback AJ Barcelona to tight end Mike Papac, followed by a 15-yard pass to Mike Wright to put the ball in BHS territory. Jeremy Clark, Tanner Hutchison and Josh Lange got the ball inside the red zone to set up Hutchinson's second TD on a six-yard run.
Late in the third, Burroughs had the ball just one play before a lateral pass was fumbled and a quick thinking David Gonzalez ran in a touchdown to cut Ridgecrest's lead to 14 points.
Ball control came back to haunt the Warriors in the opening minutes of the fourth as Tehachapi got to the Ridgecrest 19 before a fumble stalled that drive. However, an inspired Warrior defense pressed the BHS quarterback, who lost one yard rushing and threw a pair of incomplete passes forcing the Burros to punt away from their own goal line.
Tehachapi started its next drive from the BHS 48 thanks to a gutsy punt catch by Wright. The Warriors went on the march with Kris Haycock hauling in a 27-yard pass from Barcelona to set up Hutchinson's third TD from the five. Hutchinson added a two-point PAT to trail by six with eight minutes remaining in the game.
The thought of a major comeback was heightened by the THS defense when they stopped Burroughs at the one-foot line twice, making a goal line stand culminating on a blocked field goal attempt by the Burros from the five-yard line.
The Warriors moved the ball to midfield as Barcelona connected with Papac and Hutchinson on back-to-back 17-yard passes. The drive stalled at the BHS 47 on a fourth and 11-pass attempt. Barcelona finished the game completing four passes for 61 yards.
"I was real happy with the defense in the second half," Denman said. "We were real inconsistent in the beginning. We can't give up that many fumbles and expect to win."
The Warriors had 288 yards rushing with 18 first down conversions. Burroughs rushed for 154 yard with 10 first downs.
The Warriors will spend the week preparing for what may be the toughest opponent of the season, Clovis East. The game set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Clovis
Burroughs -- E. Cubit 3 yard TD pass from K. Sween (Johnson Kick)
Tehachapi -- T. Hutchinson 3 yard run (kick failed)
Burroughs -- M. Williams 80 yard run (kick failed)
Burroughs -- A. Celestine 28 yard pass from K. Sween (Johnson kick)
Burroughs -- C. Owen 15 yard pass from K. Sween (Johnson kick)
Burroughs --A. Celestine 48 yard pass from K. Sween (Johnson kick)
Tehachapi --T. Hutchinson 7 yard run (kick failed)
Tehachapi --D. Gonzalez 17 yard fumble return (Hutchinson 2 pt run)
Tehachapi -- T. Hutchinson 9 yard run (Hutchinson 2 pt run)
RUSHING -- Tehachapi: Hutchinson 19-106, Clark 11-95, Lange 9-39, M.Wright 8-42, Barcelona 3-7.
Burroughs: M. Williams 11-122, Owen 3-17, A.Celestine 2-17, Sween 1-1
PASSING -- Tehachapi: Barcelona 5-13-0-73. Burroughs: Sween 14-26-0-214
RECEIVING -- Tehachapi: Haycock 1-26, Papac 2-20, Hutchinson 1-13, Lange 1-14.
Burroughs: A. Celestine 6-149, W. Johnson 1-10, Owen 3-28, Cubit 3-27