A challenging season for the Tehachapi Warriors increased a level of difficulty Friday night as the Warriors sought out their first win in the South Yosemite League and their first road victory of the season. Those tasks included playing without starting quarterback Chris Garcia, who was ineligible following an ejection the week before against Bakersfield Christian.
The results were running backs Tanner Love and Matthew Finklea taking snaps at quarterback and the Warriors' offense relying heavily on their defense as Tehachapi scored early in the fourth quarter and held on for a 7-6 victory at Golden Valley.
“Defense played very consistently and did a great job,” said Tehachapi head coach Doug DeGeer. “We had a few breakdowns and mishaps but for the most part they really kept us in the game and made big plays that allowed us to win.”
Tehachapi would play from behind for the majority of the game as the Bulldogs scored on the first possession of the second quarter. Following a 29-yard pass from David Leon Jr. to Ronnie Simrill, the Bulldogs found themselves deep into Warrior territory. Five plays later it was Leon again connecting with Simeon Trimble from five yards out as he found the front corner of the endzone for the score. The following two-point conversion attempt, which would prove to be a difference maker, was a quarterback keeper that was met by defensive end Noah Rhoden and stopped near the line of scrimmage.
On a night where offensive highlights were scarce, it was plays like that from Rhoden as well as interceptions by Braedon Batson and Zack King that kept Tehachapi in the game. King’s interception took place inside the Bulldogs’ 10-yard line setting up Tehachapi to score. However, a false-start penalty and three tries would be turned away before the first half expired.
The first drive of the third quarter resulted in a turnover on downs for Golden Valley, Tehachapi’s first drive moved into Golden Valley territory with a steady stream of running plays, but it was stalled when Finklea was hit from behind on a handoff and Golden Valley recovered the fumble.
Both teams would turn the ball over once more in the third quarter, but it was an interception by Jake Smith who returned the ball to the Golden Valley 30-yard line that would set up Tehachapi’s game-winning drive. The Warriors pushed the ball down to the Golden Valley nine-yard line and scored five plays into the fourth quarter when Hayden Palmer scored from the right side nine yards out for a 6-6 tie, the extra point gave Tehachapi the 7-6 lead.
“Offensively things were a little rough with us being down to our third string quarterback, but we did enough to get the job done,” DeGeer said.
The fourth quarter provided chances for both teams as the Warriors fumbled once more at mid field, which allowed the Bulldogs to recover and advance the ball near the Warriors' 20. After a series of passes, Tehachapi knocked down a pass at the goal line on fourth down. Tehachapi would punt following their next drive, but the low-line-drive kick was fumbled by Golden Valley and recovered by King, sealing the Warriors’ victory.
The Warriors improved to 2-6 on the season and 1-2 in SYL play. Tehachapi will be at Ridgeview this Friday before returning home for their final game of the season, Oct. 26 against West High.
The Braves suffered their first loss in South Yosemite League play falling 28-6 at Golden Valley. Tehachapi will play at Ridgeview this Friday.
The Indians fell 35-0 on Thursday at Golden Valley. Tehachapi falls to 0-2 in South Yosemite League play. They will be at Ridgeview this Thursday at 5 p.m.