Tehachapi at Wasco

November 4, 2011

Warrior defenders struggled all night long to contain the dynamic Wasco duo of running backs Tijerana and Martinez.
Above, Cory Lange #4 attempts to bring down a Wasco ball carrier. The Warriors made the big plays when it counted
though to preserve a narrow win over the Tigers.   Photo by Jacyln Borewski, The Bakersfield Californian.

A Game For The Ages
Warriors Derail Wasco, 27-18

Posted by Tom Shea, The Tehachapi News on Nov. 7, 2011

It was a game that had it all. Gutsy plays, individual heroes, town pride and good-ol' smash mouth football.

In the end, Tehachapi showed the true grit of a champion, edging out a very talented and previously undefeated Wasco team to take sole possession of first place in the South Sequoia League with a 27-18 win.

With just over eight minutes left in the game, Tehachapi (8-1; 4-0 SSL) orchestrated the play of the night when a crucial 20 yard pass and catch from Bobby Howell to Marcus Curiel on fourth and 2 set up a Wariror go-ahead score. One play later, Curiel drove the pile four yards to the endzone to give Tehachapi a 21-18 lead. Curiel would add another touchdown as the game clock expired, scoring a 12 yard run.

Along with the late game excitement, there were plenty of nail-biting moments early on as well.

Down 6-0 in the first quarter, Cody Hall recovered a fumble that would keep Mountain Football's drive alive after Howell was sacked on blindside hit. Two plays later, Wyatt Vance scored a touchdown on a 27 yard run.

Vance would also have a big reception on the Warriors first drive of the second half, diving for a 34 yard catch on the first play of the third quarter that was capped by an eventual 1 yard leap to the endzone by Curiel.

Curiel ended the offensive night with 169 yards on 31 carries and three scores, while Vance had 85 yards on 14 attempts and a touchdown run. Both players also accounted for a combined 47 yards on kickoff returns, while Miles Villarreal had a 37 yard return. Dalton Scaggs was also a perfect 3-3 on PATs and Blake Waters had 206 yards of punting and kickoff return yardage.

On defense, Kris Kapitzke had a big pass deflection in the secondary to force a turnover on downs, while Ty Curry helped Tehachapi ice the game with a blindside quarterback sack and fumble strip that was recovered by Blake Delwisch in the fourth quarter.

Overall, Jack Blewett led the defense with 10 tackles and a sack, Adam Bullard had nine tackles, Curry had eight tackles and two sacks and Troy Mathews had eight tackles. Other standouts on defense were Cory Lange, Villareal and Curiel with seven tackles each. The Warrior defense forced three turnover on downs from Wasco's double-wing offense, the most the Tigers have had all year long in one game.

Tehachapi can win the outright league championship this Thursday night with a home win over Taft, who suffered a 42-14 defeat to BCHS last week. The game against the Wildcats will be at Coy Burnett Field. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Marcus Curiel #21 fights for yardage against a very tough Wasco defensive line. Curiel scored 3 TD's and rushed for
169 yards to lead the Warriors over the Tigers, 27-18.    Photo by Jacyln Borewski, The Bakersfield Californian.

Tehachapi Knocks Off Unbeaten Wasco, 27-18
To Earn Final SSL Title

Posted by Zach Ewing, The Bakersfield Californian, on Nov. 4, 2011

WASCO -- Austin Tijerina did what he does most Fridays for Wasco, gaining yardage in big chunks.

But as the night went on, Tehachapi did what it does, too: A big play on offense, a big play on defense, and another championship.

Tehachapi 27, Wasco 18, and the Warriors end their reign of terror in the South Sequoia League with their ninth championship in 20 years, including four in the past five.

"We told our kids, 'You've got to play like a champion to be a champion,'" Warriors coach Steve Denman said. "Champions don't jump offsides, they don't have a penalty on a key play, they don't give up a big play. And things fall into place."

What champions do is win games at the end, and Marcus Curiel's go-ahead touchdown with 8:05 left was the difference.

"It took a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication," Curiel said. "We knew that they were gonna make big plays, but we were going to make big plays, too."

For Wasco, Tijerina finished with 222 yards on 19 carries, including a 77-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

He made the jam-packed stands at Wasco shake with excitement early in the fourth quarter when he broke a tackle just past the line of scrimmage and scored 42 yards later to give Wasco a 21-18 lead.

"Our whole thing was just slow him down," Denman said. "He may have got off some big plays on us, and you don't want that to happen, but it did. But our kids played great in key situations."

Tehachapi (8-1, 4-0 SSL) responded in championship fashion, going 60 yards in 8 plays on the next drive. None of those plays were bigger than a fourth-and-2 from Wasco's 24-yard line. Out of a timeout, quarterback Bobby Howell threw just his sixth pass of the night, a floater to Marcus Curiel that gave Tehachapi 20 yards and first and goal at the 4. Curiel scored on the next play.

"We were just running the ball all night, and so the pass was there," said Curiel, who finished with 169 yards and 3 touchdowns on 31 carries.

Tehachapi never relinquished the lead

"Denman does a great job," Wasco coach Russell Prado said. "I don't think he has enough fingers for all of the rings he's won. It was fourth-and-2, and that was a gutsy call. Great call."

Tehachapi stopped Wasco (8-1, 3-1) on downs on its next possession, and though the Tigers had one more chance with 2:43 to play, Tehachapi forced and recovered a fumble in the backfield to take over.

"They did a great job; they blitzed off the edge, and we didn't pick it up," Prado said. "That's just how it is."

Tehachapi ran out the clock, with Curiel scoring from 12 yards out on the game's final play.

That last-play touchdown, aside, the difference was extra points. Tijerina missed a kick after his 77-yard TD in the first quarter, and the Tigers couldn't chase that point down, failing on two-point conversions after each of their other touchdowns.

Other than that, the matchup was as even as it gets: Each team finished with exactly 307 total yards and one turnover.

"It was a tough, physical game, and that's the way it should be in a championship game," Denman said. "We just kept telling the kids, 'Hey, we've been in this before. Keep your composure, and do your job.'"

Tehachapi will host Taft next week with a share of the SSL crown already in hand. The Warriors head to the Southeast Yosemite League next year, but they'll take the SSL title with them after beating a Wasco team that had defeated every opponent by at least 22 points.

"It means a lot to us," Curiel said. "We wanted to go out as champions, and we knew this was the game. They had been blowing every team out of the water, so we knew this was a good fight."

1st2nd3rd 4thFinal
Tehachapi  7  0   7 13 27
Wasco  6  0   6  6 18

The Scoring:

First Quarter:

Was - Tijerina 77 yard run (Tijerina kick failed) 7:21
Teh Vance 8 yard run (Scaggs kick) 2:59

Third Quarter:

Teh Curiel 1 yard run (Scaggs kick) 9:39
Was Tijerina 1 yard run (2 pt. conversion failed) 5:27

Fourth Quarter:

Was Tijerina 42 yard run (2 pt. conversion failed) 11:23
Teh - Curiel 4 yard run (Scaggs kick) 8:05
Teh - Curiel 12 yard run (no PAT kick attempted) 0:00


First Downs13 12
Passing Yards545
Total Yards307307

Individual Statistics:

RUSHING - Tehachapi: Curiel 31-169, Vance 14-85, Castaneda 2-16, Howell 1-(-11), Team 1-(-6).
Wasco: Tijerina 19-222, Martinez 18-85, Wedel 4-2, Moore 3-2, Team 1-(-9).

PASSING - Tehachapi: Howell 2-6-1. Wasco: Wedel 1-3-0.

RECEIVING - Tehachapi: Vance 1-34, Curiel 1-20. Wasco: Tijerina 1-5.

Varsity Tehachapi (SSL 4-0; 8-1 overall), Wasco (SSL 3-1; 8-1 overall)

Junior Varsity - Tehachapi 18   Wasco 41  
Frosh - Tehachapi 22   Wasco 18