The Ray Junior High Bearcats edged the Mountain Vista Cougars 20-12 in a key game that gave the Junior Cats home field advantage in the first round of the league playoffs. All the games scoring came in the first half of the game as defense played a key role in the second.
The Cougars won the first quarter of play scoring twice on the Junior Cats defense. Their first score came with 3:59 left in the first quarter when the Cougars gambled on fourth down and came up with six points on a touchdown pass.
The two point conversion try failed giving the Cougars a 6-0 lead. The Junior Cats unable to move the ball against the Cougars go three and out and are forced to punt. Starting from their own 40-yard line, the Cougars themselves found it difficult to move the chains and were forced to punt after three plays.
On the punt, special team player Nathan Molar made his way through the line to come up with a block giving the Junior Cats the ball on the Cougar 30 yard line. After a Cougar offside penalty, running back Paul Michael Wormwood took the handoff 25 yards to tie the game.
The two point conversion try by the Junior Cats failed leaving the score 6-6 at the end of the first quarter.
The Cougars went into the second quarter throwing the ball. A score on a 51-yard pass to give them the lead was called back due to a block in the back penalty. The penalty did not slow them down and they scored two plays later on a 12-yard reverse play to give them a 12-6 lead with 7:11 left in the first half.
The Junior Cats did not let the Cougar lead last long. After the kickoff by the Cougars, the Junior Cats put together an 8-play 67-yard drive. It was capped by running back Jonah Cude’s 12-yard touchdown run to tie the game once again at 12-12 with 2:59 left in the half.
The Junior Cats defense held the Cougars on their next possession forcing them to turn the ball over on downs at the Junior Cats 48 yard line. With time winding down in the half, the Junior Cats took advantage of the turnover as running back Bobby Mesa took the direct snap from center and ran up the middle 13 yards for the score.
The two-point conversion by quarterback Cole Yocum gave the Junior Cats a 20-12 lead going into the locker room.
The second half of the game was a defensive battle, as both teams did not allow any points. The only scoring chance in the half came when the Cougars drove down to the Junior Cat 20 yard line, but the tough defense of the Junior Cats denied them the end zone giving the Cats a 20-12 victory.
The Junior Cats running game was one of two key factors that got them the victory. Wormwood led all rushers with 88 yards on 10 carries and 1 touchdown, Mesa had 30 yards on 3 carries and one touchdown, and Jonah Cude 23 yards on 3 carries and 1 touchdown.
The other key factor was the defense, which came up with huge stops throughout the game. Leading tackler was Yocum with 6 tackles and 1 assist, Wormwood with 4 tackles and 2 assist, Jordan Pace, Anthony Acuna, and Cude with 3 each, and Jose Smith and Tanner Willis with 2 each. Smith also had 2 big quarterback sacks.
With the victory, the Junior Cats will host these same Cougars at Dave Mcfee Memorial Field Oct. 6 at 6 p.m. in the first round of the playoffs.
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