The Yosemite High football team (4-0) and many Badger faithful made the 5-hour ride over Tioga Pass for a game against the Bishop Broncos (2-3) last Friday. The Broncos came to YHS last year and played inspired football, losing 28-21. Like Mariposa and Minarets, this was a game the Broncos pointed to from last year, and it was also the Broncos homecoming.
The Badgers, perhaps a little road weary, looked tired early with Bishop jumping out to a 14-0 lead. YHS fought back and took the game on a memorable 96-yard drive late in the fourth quarter to pull out a 25-21 win.
“The fourth quarter was gut-check time,” YHS Head Coach JD Burnett said. “We were tired from the long bus ride and came out flat. We challenged the team at halftime, and we put it together at the end.”
Led by running quarterback Luke McClean, Bishop scored first on a 26-yard run by Arturo Lemus. YHS responded with a long drive of its own, moving to the Bronco 3, but couldn’t punch it in. A field goal attempt was mishandled and YHS came away with nothing.
Bishop took advantage and moved 80 yards on 8 plays, with Mike Molina scoring on a 14-yard run. It was 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter the Badgers’ defensive end Clay Burke recovered a Bishop fumble at the Bronco 19. Badger sophomore running back Nic Harper took it to the 2, then quarterback Tyson Mansfield scored. The point after failed but YHS was back in it and went into halftime down 14-6.
Burnett and staff made defensive adjustments during halftime. YHS held off two Bronco drives, and midway through the third quarter Mansfield hit Cannon Eames who made a tough over-the-shoulder catch good for 35 yards. Austen Burgeno later caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Mansfield. The two-point conversion failed and the Bronco lead was 14-12.
A short kickoff gave Bishop the ball at their 48. Lemus caught a slant from McClean and raced 52 yards for the score.
Just when it looked out of reach, Eames put YHS back in the game with a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. “It was huge,” Burnett said. “It definitely changed the momentum.” YHS was down 21-19 at the end of the third.
The 96-yard drive
With seven minutes left and the game on the line, Mansfield and the Badgers offense put it all together. Harper went to work with three big gains, and Eames caught three passes. Eames had 8 catches in the game for 85 yards.
With just 55 seconds left in the game, Harper scored from 6 yards out to pull out the win for Yosemite. It was a drive that will go into Badger lore.
“We just stayed focused even though we didn’t play well early,” Mansfield said. “Our guys did their job when they had to.”
YHS played without key starters. Center Klay Kliest was nursing a knee injury and Ben Negley is out for the season with a broken arm. Burke was moved to center and Mansfield operated from under center versus the shotgun, and freshman lineman Noah Burns was brought up from JV.
“Noah did a great job,” Burnett said. “Noah showed he can play at the varsity level. We are not a deep team and Noah will help us a lot.”
Harper finished the game with 153 yards (second 100-plus-yard game in a row) on 26 carries, and Mansfield was 12-24 for 111 yards and a TD. He also rushed for 31 yards.
“Tyson did not have his best game but he put it all together at the end,” Burnett said. “He is a leader and really kept his poise.”
Austen Burgeno had 2 catches for 19 yards and a TD, and Kevin Cruz, also brought up from JV, had two catches for 9 yards.
Defensively linebacker Ty Peterson had his best game of the season with 11 tackles. Peter Martinez, who sat out the Minarets game, came back with 10 tackles. Diego Combs and Ernie Jimenez had 8 and 5 tackles respectively.
Micallef leads YHS JV to win over Bishop
The JV Badgers (3-1) scored early and often to defeat the Broncos 48-16. The Badgers rushed for 231 yards. Running back Justin Micallef had 12 carries for 70 yards and three TDs.
YHS was up 27-8 at the half and scored 21 unanswered points in the third quarter to seal the win. Jadyn Carter, Kyler Schaeffer, Matt Dugovic, and Drake Airey scored touchdowns for the Badgers.
QB Carter was 6-9 for 72 yards to go with his 13 completed passes for 56 yards (1 TD).
Receiver Steven Baker had four receptions for 51 yards.