The weather wasn’t the only unseasonably cold aspect of Friday night’s Warrior football game. The Tehachapi defense offered a chilly reception to the Taft Wildcats, forcing seven turnovers and allowing the offense to break the game open in the second half in a 34-15 victory at Coy Burnett Stadium.
It marked the first win of the season for Tehachapi (1-2) after falling week one to Wasco and week two at Bakersfield High. Taft entered the game 2-0 but struggled against a stingy Warrior defense as they were handed their first loss of the season. Both teams made plenty of mistakes, but it was Tehachapi that capitalized the most.
“We’re definitely happy with the win, not happy about how we got it. It was real sloppy tonight,” said Tehachapi head coach Doug DeGeer. “We have some things we need to clean up if we’re going to go forward with any success.”
Following a rough showing on special teams a week ago at Bakersfield High, Tehachapi scored on the opening kickoff with a Trent Adams 90-yard return for a score and an early 7-0 lead for the Warriors. Tehachapi would add their second score of the evening on a Hayden Palmer seven-yard touchdown run.
“We just wanted to get out here banging,” said Adams. “Our defense did amazing; our offense needs to clean up our penalties and everything but other than that we did great…it was exciting and it's just going to get the team pumped up for next week.”
Tehachapi’s defense was tested twice in the second quarter with the Wildcats moving the ball deep into Tehachapi territory. First, with a first and goal at the two-yard line the Warriors forced Taft to lose 10 yards on the ensuing plays. Braydon Batson came up with a sack and a batted down pass to keep the Wildcats off the board. Taft would get another opportunity a few possessions later with first and goal on the four-yard line before the Warriors held strong again taking a 14-0 lead into halftime.
“Our defense was key tonight, our defense was huge, that was the one really positive side of the game for us tonight was our D,” DeGeer said. “We tackled well, assignment football, which were things we did really poorly last week. Those were all things we focused on in practice and they definitely improved.”
Tehachapi scored on their second possession of the third quarter capping off a long drive with Palmer’s second touchdown of the night, this one from four yards out. Following another Taft fumble, the Warriors set themselves up in scoring position with a Chris Garcia to Batson 36-yard completed pass. Garcia would score on the next play, a six-yard quarterback keeper to build Tehachapi’s lead to 27-0.
Taft would score a pair of touchdowns as the Warriors brought in backup players for most of the fourth quarter. Coletin Hamblin broke free on an 80-yard touchdown run and quarterback Nick Vargas scored on a 10-yard quarterback keeper to pull Taft within 12 points late in the fourth. The Warriors had one more score remaining as quarterback Jaron Searcy scored on a 35-yard run as Tehachapi put the final touches on a 34-15 home victory.
The Warriors return home this Friday night hosting Highland at Coy Burnett Stadium. The Scots are 1-2 this season following a pair of losses, most recently falling to Kennedy 41-19.
The junior varsity Braves picked up their first win of the season outlasting Taft 16-7 on Friday evening.
Tehachapi scored in the first quarter off a six-yard touchdown run by Malik McClendon, Tehachapi missed the extra point try. That score held through the first half until the Wildcats scored early in the third on a 23-yard touchdown run. The successful extra point gave Taft a 7-6 lead.
The Braves would score on the first play of the fourth quarter when Jacob Tye found Tyler O’Brien in the back corner of the endzone for a 13-yard touchdown pass. Tehachapi’s Luke Debruyne converted the two-point try to extend the lead to 14-7.
Tehachapi’s defense came up big the following possession when the snap on the punt attempt went high and the Braves recorded a safety in the Taft endzone. The final Taft drive would end in a James Fell interception for the Braves who improved to 1-2 on the season.
The Indians are still in search of their first victory of the season following a 42-28 loss at Arvin on Thursday.
Sam Orellana scored a pair of touchdowns for Tehachapi including a 78-yard kickoff return. Ashton Geddes also had a 70-yard touchdown reception for the Indians in the loss.
Tehachapi will host Highland Thursday at 5 p.m.