By Richard Bravo
Copper Basin News
The Ray Bearcats traveled to Duncan to take on the Wildkats in a Division VI matchup last Friday night. The Bearcats who came into the game as underdogs not only battled a high tempo Wildkat offense, but also had to battle an officiating crew that seemed to favor the Duncan team.
The Bearcats could not catch a break from the officials. Every big play they made was called back. In spite of the rough calls, those who made the trip to Duncan saw the Bearcats play their best football yet, leaving Duncan with a 14-6 victory.
The night started off with Duncan taking the opening kickoff to midfield. Duncan threatened the Bearcats taking the ball down to their 24 yard line, but the tough Bearcat defense held the Wildkats forcing a turnover on downs. On the Bearcats first possession started from their own 24 yard line. Receiver Dominic Bravo fumbled the ball on an end around play giving the ball right back to Duncan with excellent field position. With Duncan trying to capitalize on the Bearcat miscue, the defense of the Bearcats denied them any points as they once again held the Wildkats to force another turnover on downs. With time winding down in the quarter the Wildkats broke the scoreless tie with their first and last touchdown of the night on a quarterback keeper to take a 6-0 lead at the end of one quarter of play.
The second quarter was a defensive battle as both teams once again forced turnovers and punts. The lone score of the quarter came with 37 seconds left in the half as quarterback Destry Yocum scored his first of two touchdowns of the night on a 13 yard run to tie the game 6-6. The PAT by Jacob Pace was no good sending the Bearcats into the locker room tied with the Wildkats.
The second half of the game was a defensive battle as both teams played tough not allowing any points in the third quarter and mid-way through the fourth. It was with 7 minutes in the fourth quarter that the Bearcat offense struck again on a variety of run and pass plays. Running back Robbin Newman was key on the drive, as was receiver Joe Rudy Lorona who made a spectacular one handed catch to keep the drive alive. On the 8th play of the drive Yocum dropped back to pass and could not find an open receiver, so he tucked the ball away and scrabbled 15 yards for the touchdown. The two point conversion was good giving the Bearcats a 14-6 lead. With plenty of time on the clock Duncan had one last chance to tie the game, but as the Bearcats had done throughout the game they held the Wildkats and forced a turnover on downs to seal the victory 14-6.
The Bearcats played an outstanding game on both sides of the ball. The offensive leader was quarterback Yocum who passed for 95 yards and rushed for 78 yards and 2 TDs. Running Back Newman led all rushers with 101 yards on 16 carries. Bravo led the receivers with 2 catches for 50 yards.
Defensively the Bearcats played a tremendous game. Leading the defense was linebacker Julio Noriega and defensive end Ryan Bickley with 6 tackles each; Bravo and Yocum with 4 tackles each; Pace, Lorona, Nick Lara, and Seth Harmon with 3 tackles each.
The Bearcats wrapped up the regular season with a (7-1) record. They will be the #7 seed in the playoffs which will start on Saturday, Oct. 26. The Bearcats will host the Duncan Wildkats in a rematch that will be one not to miss. Kick off is at 6 p.m.
Ticket prices for the Arizona Interscholastic Association – Football Playoffs First Round @ Ray High School are students $6 and adults $8. These prices are set by the AIA.
Good luck to the Bearcat team and coaches as they start their journey to the state championship. Please come out and show your support!