It was a beautiful Homecoming night at Badger Stadium that saw Yosemite High School preserve their undefeated season with a hard-fought 10-7 win over the Amador Buffaloes (3-6, 2-3).
It was the YHS defense and another long, time consuming drive at the end of the fourth quarter that preserved the win. Two turnovers proved costly for the Buffaloes.
The Buffaloes from Sutter Creek play in the Sac-Joaquin Section and are a member of the Mother Lode League. Amador ran over YHS 35-7 last year on the way to a 14-2 season that included playing for the California 6-AA state title game.
“Our players showed great resilience,” Head Coach JD Burnett said. ”This was old school football which means playing fundamentally sound with few turnovers. We did that and beat a well-coached Amador team at their own game.”
Amador struck on their first possession, moving the ball 70 yards in just five plays culminating in a 52-yard run by Brandon Wright.
Late in the first Amador turned the ball over twice deep in their territory, with Badger defensive back Kevin Cruz intercepting a pass and linebacker Peter Martinez recovering a fumble at the Buffalo 22, with From where Austen Burgeno, who ran for 100 yards on the night, rushed three straight times and tied the game at 7 with a six-yard TD run.
At the end of the second quarter, starting from midfield, the YHS offense got going. With one minute left Nicholas Harper, who also rushed for 100 yards in the game, ripped off a 25 yard run to the Buffalo 5 yard line. Cruz then booted a 20-yard field goal as time expired to close out the first half with YHS up 10-7. As it turned out, Cruz’s kick would be the game winner.
YHS threatened early in the third driving to the Buffalo 17, but the drive stalled.
Amador then put together a long and time consuming drive that took up most of the third quarter and moved to the YHS 34, but a 12-yard sack by Dylan De La Cruz ended the threat.
It was still 10-7 to start the fourth quarter. An Amador punt pinned YHS at their own 5. YHS went 3 and out. A 43-yard Tyson Mansfield punt from his own end zone put Amador at the YHS 48. Amador moved to the Badger 22 but a sack by Peter Marti nez stopped the drive. A 34-yard field goal attempt was short. It was a pivotal stand for the YHS defense.
With 6:46 to play the Badgers needed another sustained drive to seal the win. For the third time this season QB Mansfield put it together when it counted.
On 3rd and 5 Mansfield hit Martinez in the flat for 14 yards. With the clock running Martinez and Burgeno got the tough yards on the ground and gaining valuable first downs. “Old school football still works,” Burnett said. “It goes back to the commitment this team gave last summer. I am really proud of this group.”
For Harper it was his fifth straight 100-yard rushing game, giving him 881 yards in seven games. Burgeno had his third 100-yard game and has 511 yards for the season. Against Amador, it was Burgeno who had 24 carries for 100 yards, and who got the tough yards and key first downs in the fourth quarter.
“Austen had a great night both on offense and defense,” Burnett said. “I can’t say enough about his toughness.”
On defense, Yosemite leading tacklers were Martinez, Caleb Burke, Ty Peterson, and Burgeno with 11, 7, 5, and 5 respectively.
The Badgers honored 10 senior players before the start of the game: Chance Bolding, Austen Burgeno, Clay Burke, Brazilian exchange student Giovanni De Oliveira, Klay Kliest, Peter Martinez, Ben Negley, Orion Olah, Ty Peterson, and Chris Ricciardi. Senior cheerleader Emilie Neff was also honored.
Buffaloes beat JV team 34-7
The Badger JV team (5-2) faced their toughest test of the season - the Amador JV Buffaloes (7-1). came into Oakhurst with a 7-1 record. It was also an emotional night for the JV Badgers with the return of running back PJ Kuzmitski who was an honorary captain and was on the bench the whole night.
The Buffaloes were big and strong and a sophomore-laden team. The Badgers have only four sophomores. Still the game was tied 7-7 in the third. After that Amador had 28 unanswered points to give YHS just their second loss of the season. YHS had won 5 straight coming into the contest.
“We played a bigger more physical team but we were right in this thing well into the third quarter,” Head Coach Mike Gipson said. “I am proud of how this team played. It was also great to have PJ here.”
YHS scored their only touchdown when quarterback Jadyn Carter (18-32, 176 yards, 1 TD) hit Steven Baker (7 receptions, 69 yards) for a 3-yard TD pass. Later a 19-yard Carter touchdown run was nullified by a holding call. After that it was a Buffalo onslaught on the ground.
The 36th annual Mountain Bowl is this Friday at Sierra High (1-8, 04 North Sequoia League). Game times are 5 p.m. for the JV games - 7 for varsity.
The Badgers will be looking for payback from last year when the Chieftains soundly beat the Badgers 41-14 at YHS. From there Sierra went on to win two D-5 playoff games before losing 50-14 against champion Mendota.
Sierra is led by senior Shane Maldonado who was thrust into QB duties due to injuries to starters Tristan Wilson and Jordan Bonesteel. Sierra averages only 29 passing yards a game.
The Chieftain offense averages 157 yards on the ground per game.