It appeared to be a fundamentally lacking night for the Tehachapi Warriors. That in turn created a relatively easy evening for the visiting Highland Scots in a 47-12 non-league win over Tehachapi Friday night at Coy Burnett Stadium.
The Warriors struggled on the offensive line, on special teams and on defense as Highland took advantage of mistakes and miscues while sending the Warriors to a 1-3 record.
“Again it came back to the little things,” said Tehachapi head coach Doug DeGeer. “We have a kickoff-return that we don’t quite field … we have a punt that we’re being lazy on and they pick up and take it 30 or 40 yards down the field, just little things like that.”
Fundamentals were an issue for Tehachapi, which played from behind all evening.
“The fundamental stuff; we didn’t tackle well from the second quarter on. Our offensive line never got anything going in the first half at all and we got a little push in the first drive of the second half but other than that we were pretty flat-footed,” DeGeer said.
Highland scored on the first drive of the game when a Tehachapi punt was blocked in the end zone, the ball managed to go through the back of the end zone for the two-point safety. Highland would score five minutes later on the first of two touchdown passes from AJ Cleveland to take a 9-0 lead. Cleveland would throw two touchdowns and run for a pair in the Highland victory.
Tehachapi responded with a 63-yard touchdown pass from Chris Garcia to Braden Batson with just over three minutes remaining in the first quarter to pull the score to 9-6. However, Highland would turn the momentum of the game in the final seconds of the first quarter with a 30-yard Nathan Jackson touchdown reception followed by a botched kickoff return by the Warriors. The ensuing Highland field position led to an 11-yard touchdown run by Cleveland as the Scots took control.
Tehachapi did manage to intercept a Highland pass at the goal line the very next possession and Batson returned the ball to the Highland nine-yard line before being brought down by the last defender. The Warriors, however, would come up empty on the drive and Highland added another touchdown before half to take a 30-6 lead into the break.
The Warriors' first drive of the second half was their strongest of the night. Starting at their own 11-yard line, the Power-I formation Warriors drove the ball 89 yards capped by a six-yard Garcia touchdown run. The point after was blocked as Tehachapi trailed 30-12. Those were the final points of the game for Tehachapi as Highland added a 23-yard field goal and another pair of touchdowns in the win.
“Again, back to the drawing board and back to the fundamentals,” DeGeer said. “We’ve been working on those things, we’ve improved on some of them but again it was still sloppy … we have to clean that stuff up if we want to have a chance to succeed as a team.”
Tehachapi caught another case of the injury bug as several running backs and offensive linemen ended the game on the sidelines. Tehachapi did see the return of Tanner Love at running back, who helped lead the Warriors down the field on their 89-yard third-quarter drive with an impressive set of carries.
The Warriors will now try to patch together a squad for this Friday night’s game at rival Garces, in a game that will decide the Ogilvie Trophy, named after former Tehachapi and Garces head coach Gary Ogilvie. Tehachapi currently holds the trophy after last season’s dramatic 28-27 overtime win over the Rams with a point-after deciding the game.
“We’ll see who we have next week. it's kind of up in the air health-wise,” said DeGeer. “It’s a big emotional game for us and it’s always a big one for them.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 Friday night at Sam Tobias Field in Bakersfield.
A pair of two-point conversion attempts were the difference-maker for the Braves, who fell 13-12 Friday evening to Highland.
The Scots scored first on a 30-yard touchdown run following a Tehachapi fumble to take a 7-0 lead. The Braves bounced back tossing a 31-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Tye to Tyler O’Brien on a third and goal. Tehachapi elected to go for two and Will Richie was stopped short of the goal line.
The next score didn’t come until the fourth quarter as Tehachapi completed a long pass to O’Brien again and mixed in a heavy-dose of Malik McClendon before Tye found Hayden Wadkins on a four-yard touchdown pass with just over three minutes remaining. Tehachapi was turned away on another two-point conversion attempt and led 12-7.
The Scots would take advantage, moving the football and benefiting from an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the red zone that resulted in the ejection of Tye. The Scots capped the drive off with an eight-yard touchdown run with 40 seconds remaining and held on for the 13-12 win.
Tehachapi is at Garces this Friday at 5 p.m.
The Freshmen Indians are still in search of their first win of the season after a 48-24 loss to Highland on Thursday.
Tehachapi did benefit from a 98-yard interception return for a touchdown by Sam Ariana in the first half. The Indians are at Garces on Thursday at 5 p.m.