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Mission Hills’ State Title Run Ended by Bakersfield’s Last Minute TD, 35-28

Grizzlies Unable to Stop Drillers’ Rally

Saturday, December 14th, 2013
Issue 50, Volume 17.
Paul Bandong
Sports Editor

It was a matchup of heavyweights in the Division 1 CIF Southern California Division Regional Bowl Game on December 13, 2013 with both teams throwing their best punches in a toe-to-toe battle all game.

The Bakersfield Drillers (12-2) come from a rich tradition of football; the school is over 120 years old with a state-record 36 section titles. Their last state championship game was in 1927 when they (known then as Kern County Union High School) won their sixth state title by beating Fullerton. There was no state championship game for 79 years until the CIF revived it in 2006. This is only the eighth year of the CIF State bowl system.

By contrast, Mission Hills (12-2) is only ten years old. The Grizzlies have won four consecutive Avocado East League Championships and its first section title almost two weeks ago – the San Diego Section Open Division Championship over perennial powerhouse Oceanside Pirates, 36-14. The Grizzlies lost last year’s Sectional Championship to Eastlake, 21-14.

The Drillers’ option offense drew first blood as Nevada-recruit dual threat QB Asauni Rufus led his team from the 19, with Darius Jones punching it in from 12 yards out for a 7-0 lead. The Grizzlies counter-punched immediately as QB Connor Wynn (224 yards, two TD’s) hit Dechaun Holiday for a 59-yard score.

A Drillers’ fumble resulted in a 62-yard drive; Wynn landed with another punch when he hit Martel Holmes for a 13-yd score and a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Later in the second quarter, Bakersfield drove from their 21 down to the Grizzlies’ one-yard line where they fumbled, ending their potential game-tying drive.

After the break, Mission Hills received the kick-off and drove to the 12, but the Bakersfield defense held them scoreless. Rufus engineered an eighty-yard drive capped off by Jeremiah Reddick’s one-yard midsection TD dive to tie the game at 14 at the end of the third.

Wynn struck back with a 44-yd run on the first play of the final period, to re-establish a Grizzlies’ lead, 21-14. Bakersfield’s Rufus (10-for-10, 225 yards) counter-punched by hitting Lameshio Hill along the sideline; Hill beat two defenders on his way to a 51-yard score to tie the game at 21-21.

Wynn landed another haymaker as he ran 31 yards for another score to give the Grizzlies a 28-21 lead. Wynn rushed for almost 200 yards and two scores.

With six minutes, left, Rufus and the option offense drove from their 34 with body punch after body punch; Rufus made a 27-yard run (he finished with 73 yards) and then handed to Reddick around the left side for his second score and another tie game, 28-28.

Wynn wiffed punches with three straight incomplete passes giving the ball back to the Drillers. Rufus hit hard and fast with a deep ball to Vickers down to the 13-yard line with three minutes left. Three plays later, Rufus hit the midsection of the defense from one yard out with less than a minute left to take their only lead of the game since the opening drive, 35-28.

The Grizzlies started with the ball on their 16, but Wynn’s pass was intercepted by Vickers to seal the win for Bakersfield and their first trip back to the state title game in almost eighty years.

Next Friday, December 20 at the DStubHub Center in Carson, CA, the Drillers will face the Del Oro Golden Eagles (13-2) from Loomis. Del Oro defeated Serra (11-3) from San Mateo, 28-20.

Bakersfield has two teams in the six state championship games. Bakersfield's other entry -- Bakersfield Christian High School Eagles (12-2) -- will face off against powerhouse Central Catholic Raiders (14-1) in the Division IV State Championship. The Eagles feature running back Matt Smith (1600 yards, 18 TD's rushing) and receiver Josh Jackson (1250 yards, 14 TD's). The Raiders rely heavily on running back Matt Ringer (2260 yards, 33 TD's); they are also starting sophomore QB Hunter Petlansky in place of injured senior QB Donovin Townsend. Petlansky has seen action in only seven varsity games and started four. He has thrown for four TD's and rushed for four more.

Congratulations to Mission Hills for their Southern California Regional Bowl Championship appearance!



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