It is a quick turnaround for the Yuma High School football team after last Friday’s heartbreaking loss at Wiggins.
The Tribe hosts Burlington today, October 14, in a rare Thursday night varsity game. It is the first Thursday night varsity football game in decades, if ever, though Thursday games are common throughout the state, mostly for bigger schools that share facilities.
However, the shortage of referees are causing schools at all levels to deviate somewhat from the traditional Friday night/Saturday afternoon scheduling.
It will be a battle of two teams desperately fighting for their playoff lives.
Yuma is 0-2 in North Central Conference play, 3-3 overall, after last Friday’s 30-28 loss to the Tigers. Burlington is 0-2, 2-4, after a 49-7 loss to top-ranked Limon last Saturday afternoon.
Yuma dropped out of the Class 1A Top 10 this week, while Wiggins moved up to No. 6. However, both Yuma and Burlington remain within the top 16 of the 1A Rating Percentage Index, with Yuma at No. 13, and the Cougars at No. 15, thanks to both teams playing difficult schedules.
That means tonight’s winner stays firmly in the playoff chase, while the loser could be on its final lifeline.
After tonight, Yuma still has Wray and Holyoke left on the schedule. If the Indians could win all three, they definitely would punch their playoff ticket with a 6-3 record. Winning two of their final three would leave them 5-4 and likely in the postseason, but as a low seed.
Limon and Wray both are 2-0 in NCC play, while Wiggins and Holyoke are 1-1, and Yuma and Burlington 0-2. Wray handled Holyoke, 28-11 last Friday.
This week’s NCC play includes Holyoke at Wiggins, and Limon visiting Wray, both on Friday. Therefore, because Yuma plays on Thursday, fans have an opportunity to go see one of those key matchups the next evening.
In regards to the Top 10, Limon remains No. 1, Wray is No. 5, Wiggins No. 6 and Holyoke No. 8. In the RPI, Limon is No. 3, Wray No. 4, Wiggins No. 6 and Holyoke No. 10, along with Yuma and Burlington at 13 and 15.
Yuma would be sitting in a more advantageous position if it could have pulled out a win in a highly-entertaining game in Wiggins. The contest has momentum swings, big plays, a referee being carted off on a stretcher in the final minutes, a nearly miracle finish, and blocked field goal to end it.
The only thing it did not have was a Yuma victory.
Yuma hit paydirt first on its second possession. A 48-yard pass from Clay Robinson to Jesus Ross set up the Indians at Wiggins’ 3-yard line. Robinson scored, but a penalty was called, canceling the TD. Yuma then lost five yards on a fumble, but Ross made a great catch near the goal line, and Robinson scored on a keeper to the right side on fourth down. Alex Lozano’s extra point gave Yuma a 7-0 lead.
Wiggins answered with a scoring drive, tying the score early in the second quarter.
A promising Yuma drive ended with a fumble. Wiggins then was threatening to score when Daman Thornton came up with an interception.
Disaster struck in the final two minutes for Yuma. First, Wiggins got a safety on a Yuma punt attempt. Then on the Wiggins’ ensuing drive, Cole Kerr hit Omar Perez for a 61-yard touchdown. After the extra-point kick, Yuma found itself trailing 16-7 at halftime.
Wiggins had the ball first in the third, but John Smith came up with an interception, and Wiggins was called for a personal foul, setting up the Indians at Wiggins’ 39.
They made it pay off as Robinson hit Hermosillo for a 16-yard gain, followed by Trejo’s 23-yard TD run. Lozano’s extra point pulled the Indians to within 16-14.
The defense came up with a stop on the Tigers’ next drive.
Yuma converted a fourth-and-three on its next drive when Wiggins jumped offsides. The Tigers jumped offsides again, and then Robinson made them pay with a 29-yard TD run.
Lozano’s extra point gave Yuma a 21-16 lead with under 5 minutes left in the third.
However, Wiggins immediately struck back on its next play from scrimmage as Kerr hit Perez down the Tigers’ sideline for an 80-yard touchdown pass. Kerr ran in the 2-point conversion for a 24-21 Wiggins lead.
The Tigers scored again with 31 seconds left in the quarter to take a 30-21 lead into the fourth.
It appeared Wiggins was about to put the game away when Smith came up with his second interception at the Indians’ 15. The Tribe then went on a long drive, including a long pass from Robinson to Thornton, and another completion to Ross. Robinson capped the drive with a 1-yard run up the middle with 2:43 left.
Lozano’s extra point pulled Yuma to within two, 30-28.
It appeared Wiggins was going to win as it picked up a couple of first downs, forcing Yuma to burn its timeouts.
All Wiggins had to do was run out the clock, but somehow Kerr fumbled and the Indians recovered at their own 42 with 1:34 left.
A referee was hit hard during the ensuing celebration. He got up, walked back toward midfield before collapsing. Medical personnel quickly attended to him, but it was about 10 minutes before he was carefully loaded onto the stretcerh and carted off the field, holding a “thumbs up” to the crowd.
When the action resumed, Robinson hit Trejo on a pass to Wiggins’ 41.
It was fourth-and-8 with under 30 seconds left when Robinson somehow got outside containment and just got past the first down marker as he went out of bounds.
There were 18 seconds left, and the Indians sent out Lozano for the potential game-winning 47-yard field goal.
However, Wiggins got a great push up the middle, and the ball barely had left Lozano’s foot when it was blocked, sealing the win for Wiggins and sending the Tribe and its fans home broken-hearted.
Two long pass plays, and Wiggins’ ability to control the line of scrimmage just enough, made the difference. Yuma won the turnover battle, 4-1, including three interceptions, got three sacks and held a five minute advantage in time of possession. Both teams had 18 first downs. Yuma converted all five of its fourth-down attempts.
However, Wiggins had 440 total yards, 141 on two passing touchdowns, while the Indians had 329. Wiggins passed for 261 yards, and ran for 179.
The Indians ran for 209 yards, and a big positive was finding more success in the passing game as Robinson completed six of 13 attempts for 120 yards. Ross had three catches for 61 yards, Thornton two for 46, and Hermosillo one for 13.
Robinson ran for 134 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries, Trejo 64 yards and one TD on 14 carries, Thornton 17 yards on three carries, and Kallen Blach three yards.
Yuma’s defense held Kerr to just 77 rushing yards on 18 carries.
Blach and Victor Perez each were in on 10 total tackles, Hermosillo six, Smith five, Andre Baucke five, Christian Quezada four, Robinson three, Thornton three, Conner Lynch three, Trey Stegman two, and Nash Richardson, Ross, Nathan Etl, Jose Ruiz and Ethan Gonzales one each.
The Yuma High School football team hung on for a 16-14 win over Sidney, Monday afternoon in Yuma.
The JV now is 5-2 on the season.
Christian Duarte scored both touchdowns for Yuma, and Alex Lozano had an interception in the end zone as time expired to secure the win.
The JV is in action again Monday at Burlington.