Wildcats and Lions combine for 62 points

A look at the final scoreboard and one would assume that the Taft and Mira Monte junior varsity football teams were involved in an offensive shootout. Instead, the defense had a large voice in the game after the Wildcats defeated the Lions 42-20 in Bakersfield Friday evening.

“I was happy with the results,” said Taft coach Eric Gonzales. “Our offense rallied back. We’re able to match up with them.”

With the victory, Taft heads into South Sequoia League action with a record of 3-0-1.

Mira Monte had the edge early in the game highlighted by Jermaine Adam’s run and a horse collar call on the Taft defense for a total of 16 yards. After a pair of runs and another Taft penalty, Daniel Anthony passed to Angel Torres who made a leaping catch in the endzone for a touchdown with 5:16 remaining in the first quarter. Francisco Cruz followed with a run for the two-point conversion.

It didn’t take long for the Wildcats to even the score. On the second play of Taft’s next series, Setefano Maui ran 41 yards for the touchdown. Harley Morgan ran in the endzone to tack on the two-point conversion.

Taft made their next scoring threat late in the first quarter when they started at the Mira Monte 30-yard line after a short punt. On the first play, Maui ran 23 yards to get to the Lions 7-yard line.

The Wildcats got down to the Mira Monte 4-yard line, but the drive came to a sudden end when the Lions’ Arath Rojas intercepted a pass on the first play of the second quarter.

Taft made quick work on their next scoring chance by starting at their 40-yard line. On the second play of the series, Maui ran 44 yards for the touchdown with 6:06 remaining. Taft, though, was unable to tack on the two-point conversion.

It didn’t take long for the Wildcats to strike again. On the third play of Mira Monte’s next drive, Taft intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown with 4:59 to go. Taft was unable to add the two-point conversion.

Taft’s defense struck again on the first play of Mira Monte’s next series after Jacob Gonzales recovered a fumble on the Mira Monte 21-yard line. It took only two plays for the Wildcats to score with Maui running 24 yards for the touchdown. All totaled, the Wildcats scored three times in a little over two minutes.

The Wildcats were not through, though. Three plays into the Lions next series, Taft’s Blake Johnson intercepted a pass and returned it to the Mira Monte 13-yard line. Two plays later, Morgan ran two yards for a touchdown with 1:59 to go.

It was Mira Monte’s turn in the third quarter. In Taft’s opening series, Mira Monte recovered a fumble at the Taft 20-yard line. Three plays later, Anthony ran six yards for a touchdown with 4:53 to go. The two point conversion was no good.

The Lions struck again in the fourth quarter when Cruz recovered a fumble at the Taft 40-yard line. Cruz ran the next three plays on offense before scoring on a 19 yard run with 6:09 remaining. Like the previous score, the two-point conversion was no good.

Taft came alive one more time on their next series when Jordan Chauvin ran four yards for a touchdown with 4:48 to go.

“We look strong,” Gonzales said about the team heading into league. “We got to make sure we do everything right.”

Taft kicks off league season Friday when they host Arvin. The game begins at 5 p.m.