Warrior wide receiver Kaleb Songer tries to secure a pass against a North High defender Friday
night (Oct. 14) in Bakersfield. The Warriors held on to defeat the Stars, 32-28. Tehachapi (8-1;
3-0 in SYLML) will now host West High in the regular season finale this Friday is Tehachapi.
(Photo by Eliza Green, The Bakersfield Californian.)
Posted by Henry Greenstein, The Bakersfield Californian on October 14, 2022.
Tehachapi Escapes North For Critical League Win
Tehachapi needed more points to win than it probably expected at halftime of Friday night's game at North, leading 26-7. But after the Warriors had blown their lead and then taken it back, their most important drive was ultimately a non-scoring one.
After forcing a three-and-out early just eight plays into the fourth quarter, it was time to kill the clock. With 12 straight rushes, including one third-down conversion by Mike Jones and two more on gutsy outside runs by AJ Anderson, Tehachapi did just that, and took a pair of knees from the 5-yard line to win 32-28.
Despite allowing three straight touchdowns in the third quarter, the Warriors sealed a South Yosemite Mountain League victory that had looked extremely precarious, putting themselves in the driver's seat for a league title.
"A lot of these guys, they played varsity last year, even some of those juniors we got, so a lot of experience played into it," Tehachapi coach Kris Krempien said. "Had they been younger with less experience, it might have been tougher to do that. So we challenged them, they answered the call and the result was in our favor."
The junior running back Anderson had three touchdowns, including the 22-yard fourth-quarter game-winner, showing an excellent mix of power and speed on his way to 232 total yards (per Tehachapi's official stats). Karson Tiewater blocked an early field goal to set up Anderson's first score, then posted two touchdowns of his own in rapid succession in the second quarter to boost Tehachapi's lead to 20-0 early.
They were set up by a bad snap on a punt that gave the Warriors the ball at the 1-yard line, then a fumble recovered by Wyatt Richie on the first play of North's next drive.
"We came out knowing this was going to be a tough matchup," Anderson said. "We had to come out prepared."
Despite entering the half down 26-7, the Stars were undaunted. Quarterback Carson Bennett had a strong game for North and seemed to heat up as the evening progressed, tossing passing scores of 30, 45 and 42 yards, then sprinting around left end for a 65-yard touchdown on the first play of a Stars drive to give them a lead as the third quarter concluded. Daniel Bradwell caught two of his touchdowns.
"Our guys maybe got a little bit comfortable at halftime, we were feeling pretty good about ourselves, and then they punched us in the mouth," Krempien said. "They came back with some big plays and unfortunately that's been our M.O. throughout the year, is giving up big plays and making our offense battle against that.
"But at the end of the day a win's a win and I couldn't be prouder of our guys."
Both teams missed opportunities that could have helped sway the outcome one way or another, particularly in the first quarter. Tehachapi punted from the Stars' 35. North had a goal-to-go situation after a 39-yard pass from Bennett to Verquel Turner but a holding penalty led to the blocked 31-yard field goal.
The Warriors had their own goal-line struggles to close the first half. After going up 26-7 on a deep touchdown pass from Jacob Root to Anderson, Tehachapi forced a quick three-and-out, started its next drive at the 50-yard line with half a minute left and looked set to boost its lead even further.
But after a 26-yard completion to Christian Morse and a third-down pass-interference call, the Warriors could only manage consecutive incompletions from the 9-yard line to end the half. On the final play, Root made an accurate throw across his body rolling left to Anderson in the back of the end zone, but it hit him in the knee as he went down for it.
Tehachapi stumbled again early in the third, after a Bennett touchdown to Bradwell, when Jones was held to one yard each on third- and fourth-down carries to turn the ball back over to the Stars.
The Warriors adjusted in time for the fourth quarter, and not a moment too soon, because by then they trailed 28-26.
"They were stuffing the inside so we had to go outside," Anderson said. "Just easy stuff like that."
Anderson ripped off a 25-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter with a personal foul tacked on, and then Tehachapi trusted him to carry the load on third-and-7. He got the first down and more, taking the ball to the corner of the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.
The Stars chose the worst possible moment for their worst offensive drive of the second half, going backwards on a Bennett keeper and failing to connect on consecutive passes, with a declined holding call on the second. After punting, they never saw the ball again.
Tehachapi (8-1, 3-0) will need to beat West Friday to claim sole possession of the league title. North (4-4, 1-1) now has to win out against East and South and have the Warriors lose to earn a share.
1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final Tehachapi 0 26 0 6 32 North High 0 7 21 0 28
North High vs Tehachapi Statistics
NHS THS First Downs 8 20 Rushes-Yards 22-167 49-267 Passing Yards 184 101 Comp-Att-Int 13-25-1 6-14-0 Total Yards 351 368 Punts 2-28.5 Penalties 1-12 10-100
RUSHING — North High: Bennett 7-113, Dillon 9-34, Foreman 4-14, Steven 1-5, Napier 1-1.
Tehachapi: Anderson 22-167, Tiewater 16-98, Jones 7-13, Root 7-(-13).
PASSING — North High: Bennett 7-12-0-161. Tehachapi: Root 6-14-0-101.
RECEIVING — North High: Bradwell 2-88, Steven 2-53, Foreman 2-43.
Tehachapi: Anderson 2-65, Songer 2-7, Morde 1-26, Jones 1-3.