Yuma County Showdown Friday in Yuma

The latest edition of the ancient Yuma-Wray football rivalry will take place Friday night in Yuma.
While the Eagles had the privilege of hosting top-ranked Limon last Friday, losing 41-0, they still are perfectly situated for a Class 1A playoff spot, sitting at 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the tough North Central Conference. They are No. 4 in the Rating Percentage Index, and ranked No. 5 in the Top 10.

Yuma, meanwhile, is playing for its playoff lives, barely escaping with a 10-9 home win over Burlington, last Thursday, sitting at 4-3 overall and 1-2 in the NCC. The Indians are No. 13 in the RPI, and remained unranked in the Top 10, essentially sitting at No. 11 as the top team “also receiving votes.”
After Friday’s rivalry showdown, the Indians close out the regular season next Friday at Holyoke. The Dragons currently are 5-2 overall, 2-1 in the NCC, and are ranked No. 9 in the RPI and No. 6 in the Top 10 poll.
Therefore, the Indians hold their own playoff destiny. Two upset wins could push them into the top eight in the 16-team playoff field, and one win should at least secure a playoff berth — and would result in the program’s third straight winning regular season.
Limon, 7-0, 3-0, is No. 1 in the Top 10 poll and No. 2 in the RPI behind Centauri, which handed Wray a 28-14 loss in the season opener. Wiggins is 5-2, 1-2, sitting at No. 7 in the RPI and No. 9 in the Top 10.
Besides last week’s Yuma and Wray results, Holyoke handled Wiggins 41-26 on the Tigers’ home field. Wiggins is at Burlington on Saturday before closing out the regular season at Limon. Holyoke hosts Limon on Saturday before hosting Yuma on October 29.
Burlington likely is out of the playoff chase after last week’s tough loss at Yuma, sitting at 2-5 overall and 0-3 in the NCC. The Cougars have dropped to No. 21 in the RPI.
It was cold and windy for last Thursday night’s game in Yuma. Then a chilly drizzle started to fall.
Maybe it was because it was an unusual Thursday game, but the whole contest had a weird feel about it. The crowd also was sparse, partly because YHS’s other fall sports teams still play, volleyball and cross country, had competitions the same day, and the weather conditions were not conducive.
Still, the Indians eventually were able to pull out a NCC win, which is a precious commodity now matter how it happens.
Both defenses dictated the contest, as Yuma finished with just 238 total yards and Burlington 249. Yuma averaged 3.7 yards per rush, and Burlington 2.4. Yuma ran for 190 yards, while Burlington had 79 on the ground. The Cougars passed for 170 yards, compared to Yuma’s 48, but in the end it was passing that doomed the visitors.
Burlington struck first, driving deep into Yuma territory — after the Indians had a three-and-out on its first possession — before settling for Keaton Floyd’s 26-yard field goal midway through the first quarter.
The Cougars drove into Yuma territory again on its second possession, but could not capitalize.
Yuma then went on a long drive, overcoming a couple of costly penalties, including Clay Robinson’s 36-yard touchdown run negated by a flag on third-and-16.
Still, the Indians overcame that on the very next play as Robinson hit Daman Thornton on a 37-yard touchdown pass. Alex Lozano’s extra point gave Yuma a 7-3 lead.
Burlington converted a fourth-and-three inside its own 30, followed by a long run to Yuma’s 25-yard line. However, the Cougars had incomplete passes on third and fourth down to end the threat.
Yuma led 7-3 at halftime.
A turnover gave Burlington possession at Yuma’s 23-yard line early in the third. However, the Cougars kept passing, resulting in stops on third and fourth downs, returning the ball to the Indians.
Both teams traded punts after that.
Then came some curious coaching decisions.
Yuma faced a fourth-and-one at its own 15-yard line early in the fourth. The Indians tried a fake, with the “up” back moving under center before taking the snap. The Burlington defense snuffed the attempt.
The Cougars immediately converted on a quick slant pass from Garrett Richardson to Dominic Conrardy for a touchdown.
The extra-point kick was missed, leaving Burlington ahead 9-7 with 10 minutes, 15 seconds left.
Yuma struggled moving the ball, and Robinson briefly left the game with an injury, on top of halfback Yahir Trejo leaving earlier with a lower-body injury.
Burlington had possession, up by two, when the Cougars went to the air again, only to see Kevin Hermosillo come up with an interception and return it to Burlington’s 45 with about 5 minutes left.
The Indians picked up two first downs, but then a run to the Cougars’ 12 was wiped out by a holding penalty.

Eventually, it came down to a long fourth down at Burlington’s 23.
Alex Lozano trotted out to attempt the go-ahead field goal from 40 yards. Lozano had a go-ahead 47-yard attempt blocked the previous week at Wiggins (a 30-28 loss), but this time the kick got off clean and easily split the uprights, and probably would have been good from 50 yards or longer.
What’s more, the Indians played without their regular center and long snapper, senior Tyler Allen, due to injury. Robinson handled the long-snapping duties on the field goal, with John Smith as the holder.
Burlington got the ball back with 1:25 left, but the defense did its part by coming up with a sack to seal the 10-9 victory.
It was the Indians’ second straight win over Burlington, which has not happened for the YHS football program for a very long time.
The late interception was the only turnover of the game, besides turnover on downs. The time of possession was nearly even, and Yuma ran 59 plays to 55 for Burlington. Yuma had eight penalties and Burlington six.
Yuma’s strong defensive effort included Kallen Blach being in on 11 total tackles, Smith eight, Andre Baucke five, Nash Richardson four, Trey Stegman four, Victor Perez four, Hermosillo four, Jose Ruiz four, Christian Quezada three, Thornton three, Robinson two, Nathan Etl two, and Jesus Ross, Trejo and Conner Lynch one each.
Robinson ran for 156 yards on 26 carriers, Silas Baucke 14 yards on eight carriers, Richardson 10 on two attempts, Ethan Goeglein (in his first action this season after an injury), 10 yards on six carriers, Trejo nine yards on five carries. Robinson completed three of seven passes for 48 yards and a TD. Thornton had two catches for 49 yards and the TD, and Ross one catch that resulted in a one-yard loss.