It was a cold (43 degrees) and damp night at Badger Stadium Nov. 17, conditions that proved difficult for the visiting No. 5 seed Immanuel Eagles (4-6), who turned the ball over 5 times allowing Yosemite (9-0) to jump to an early 27 point lead en route to a 42-21 playoff win.
Badger sophomore running back Nicholas Harper rushed for 89 yards for three touchdowns and two 2-point conversions. It was only the third time this season Harper was held to under 100 yards. He now has 1,092 yards rushing in 9 games (121 yard average per game).
In addition to Harper’s 3 TDs, senior Cannon Eames (4 receptions - 128 yards) scored on a 64-yard pass from junior quarterback Tyson Mansfield (6-10, 168 yards), cornerback Kevin Cruz returned an interception 45 yards for a TD and senior Austen Burgeno (102 rushing yards) scored from 10 yards out with 2:30 left to complete the YHS scoring.
Burgeno rushed for more than 100 yards for the third straight game this season.
Big night for Peterson
Senior linebacker Ty Peterson had a huge game, tying the Badger record with 3 fumble recoveries in a game. He also led the defense with 15 tackles, had 30 yards receiving and another 20 in returns. Overall the 5 team fumble recoveries ties a school record.
Eagle miscues were the key to a dominating Badger first half. Midway through the first quarter Peterson recovered a bad snap at the Eagle 22. Later Harper would score on a 7-yard TD run.
Peterson recovered his second fumble on the ensuing kick-off at the Immanuel 22. The Badgers were dealt an unsportsmanlike penalty and a holding penalty moving the ball back to the Eagle 37. On a third and 4, Mansfield kept the drive alive by hitting freshman Steven Baker for a first down. From there Harper would take it in from the 6. The 2-point conversion failed but YHS had a 12-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Immanuel put together a drive starting at their 20 driving all the way to the Badger 13, but on fourth and 1, QB Adam Simonian fumbled on a sneak. It was recovered by Diego Combs to prevent the touchdown.
Later in the second a Mansfield punt was bobbled by Immanuel and Peterson again recovered at the Badger 36. Mansfield then hit Eames in the right flat, who shrugged off a tackler and ran for a 64 yard TD. Harper scored on the 2-point conversion and YHS had a 20-0 lead. Four critical Eagle turnovers led YHS to a 20-0 at the half.
Short lived comeback
After giving Immanuel a short field after a pooch kick, Immanuel would score on its first possession after halftime, on a 55 yard drive with Matt Tiger scoring on a 5-yard run.
The Badgers responded with a scoring drive from its 20, starting with Mansfield hitting Peterson for a 30-yard gain to the 50. On fourth and 2 from the Eagle 42, Harper bulled his way for a first down. From the 36 Mansfield connected with Eames to the 5, with Harper scoring from 5 yards out on the next play. Harper scored on the 2-point conversion and it was 28-7.
Another YHS pooch kick gave the Eagles great field position at their 46. Immanuel would take advantage again. Moving down the field with the run and pass Tiger eventually scored from 5 yards out and it was 28-14 at the end of the third quarter, but the Eagles would get no closer.
Early in the fourth Badger sophomore corner Kevin Cruz put the game away with a 45-yard interception return for a TD. An Eames point after kick made the score 35-14 with 5 minutes to play.
Immanuel then put together an 80 yard drive with Brad Lovewell scoring on a 21-yard pass from Simonian with 3:20 left.
On the kickoff, Peterson took the onside kick 20-yards with multiple tacklers in tow to the Eagle 30. It was Burgeno who put the game away with a 10-yard TD run. Burgeno also had 6 tackles in the game and linebacker Peter Martinez had 9.
Yosemite faces No. 1 seed Caruthers Friday
The Badgers will now travel to Caruthers Friday for its toughest test of the season, facing the No. 1 D-V seeded Blue Raiders (10-0) at 7 p.m.. The Blue Raiders beat No. 8 seed Kennedy of Delano 35-21 last Friday.
Caruthers defeated YHS 36-14 last season in Caruthers. The Badgers were scheduled to face Caruthers this season but the game was canceled due to the fires.
Caruthers has the most potent running attack in D-V averaging 308 yards per game, and enters the Yosemite game with two 1,000-yard rushers - senior Imanol Arredondo (1,213 yards, 22 TDs), and junior Chris Puga (1,029 yards, 13 TDs).
Senior quarterback Jared Gilmore is 54 of 94 for 1,176 yards and 16 TDs, with 10 interceptions.
The Badgers will counter with Harper, who has rushed for 1,092 yards with 13 touchdowns. Harper has six games with 100 yards or more. Burgeno has 714 yards rushing and 10 TDs.
Tyson Mansfield has not thrown an interception in six straight games. Cannon Eames has 632 yards receiving and 7 touchdowns in six games.
In other D-V action last week No. 3 seed Firebaugh blanked No. 6 Coalinga 26-0, and No. 2 seed Shafter crushed No. 7 Hanford West 51-6. Firebaugh travels to Shafter for the semifinals match up.
The winner of the Yosemite-Caruthers game will play the winner of the Firebaugh-Shafter game on Dec. 1 for the CIF Cental Section D-V Championship.