On a beautiful smoke-free night last Friday the Yosemite Badgers (2-0), despite a two week layoff, defeated the Mariposa Grizzlies (2-2) 40-14 in the Gold Nugget Bowl.
Yosemite broke open a close game by scoring 23 unanswered points in the second half.
“Our team played great,” Head Coach JD Burnett said. “Our offensive game plan was to control the ball and the clock. Mariposa has a talented offense and we wanted to keep them off the field with our run game, and our defense did an excellent job.”
Senior receiver and defensive back Cannon Eames scored 34 of the Badgers’ 40 points, breaking Roosevelt Cooks’s school record of 30 set in 2000. Eames had four touchdowns - three on offense (6 receptions for 184 yards), one on defense, kicked two field goals, and four PATs.
YHS scored on their first drive. Junior quarterback Tyson Mansfield connected on long passes to Chris Ricciardi and Eames. The drive stalled at the 10 yard line, and Eames booted a 23-yard field goal to put YHS up 3-0.
After a 65-yard punt by Mariposa, YHS started at its own 13. Sophomore running back Nic Harper had a 20-yard run to start drive, and then Mansfield hit Eames on an over the shoulder catch, good for a 57-yard TD. Eames kicked the point after and with 5:05 left in the first quarter it was 10-0.
The Badger pass rush was relentless, blitzing on every down. Mariposa QB Colton Weidner was forced to roll out on most of his throws. The rush along with Grizzly penalties killed drives all night long.
YHS went up 17-0 with 9:40 before halftime with Eames scoring on a 16-yard slant from Mansfield.
Yosemite blocked a Grizzly punt but bobbled the ball, and Mariposa recovered at the YHS 45. Weidner then connected with John Chapman down to the YHS 2. Logan Donati then caught a 3-yard touchdown pass.
On the next Grizzly possession, JC Davies caught a 9-yard touchdown pass just 42 seconds before halftime. It was now 17-14 YHS. It was a stunning turnaround and the momentum shifted to the Grizzlies.
Mansfield hit Eames on a great 38-yard touchdown catch with just 20 seconds left. Eames out-jumped two defenders who fell to the ground, and stretched out over the end zone for the TD. The Badgers took control and led 24-14 after an exciting first half.
In the third Mariposa drove deep into YHS territory, but on 4th and goal Ben Negley stretched out and broke up a Weidner pass in the end zone to end the threat.
And then YHS running back Alex Burgeno broke a 34-yard run and scored from the 17 on the next play, that put the Badgers up 31-14 with 7:23 left in the third.
Eames would boot a 23-yard field goal and then came back with a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown to secure a 40-14 YHS win.
Last year marked the return of the Gold Nugget Bowl after 24 years. The game was first sponsored by the Sierra Star in 1977, with the Badgers winning 51-38.
Friday’s win gave Yosemite a 10-4 edge in the series, with the 1979 game ending in a 14-14 tie. The game was not played in 1982, 83, and 88, with the last game of the original series ending with a Badger win in 1992.
Yosemite has now won the last 10 Gold Nugget Bowls, and keeps the perpetual trophy for another year.
Mustangs at Yosemite Friday
The Minarets (2-2) offense averages 245 yards passing and 132 rushing a game. They put up 90 total against winless Sierra and Tranquility teams. The Mustang’s QB, senior Noah Fulton is very athletic, can run and has a strong arm. Fulton is 52 of 91 for 954 yards and 10 TD’s against only two picks. d.
The receiving corps is also very talented and they make big plays - EG Walden (16-323, 2 TD’s), Preston Conti (9-228, 3 TD’s), and Zach Redmond (10-242, 2 TD’s) - All average over 20 yards per reception.
JV team wins 34-6
The JV Badgers (1-1) responded from their opening loss to Le Grand and a two week layoff to defeat the Mariposa JV 34-6. After Mariposa scored on their first possession, YHS responded with 34 unanswered points.
Kyle Schaeffer had a breakout game scoring four touchdowns. The Badger defense stifled the Grizzly offense all night with a dominant pass rush and three interceptions.
Late in the first quarter YHS corner Kevin Cruz picked off a Cramer pass and returned it 55 yards for the first Badger touchdown. Zach Palmer booted the PAT and Yosemite led 7-6 at the end of the first quarter. Schaeffer finished off the Grizzlies scoring most of his touchdowns on nifty cutback runs.
Badger quarterback Jayden Carter had success in the air with receivers Steven Baker and Holden Eames making big plays. Running back Justin Micallef got the tough yards on the ground for the Badgers.