Taft High loses to Foothill in a defensive struggle

By Jonah Armsrong
Taft High's Richard Rodrigues struggles for yards against Foothilll.

Taft High took a 2-0 record to Bakersfield Friday night and came home with its first loss of the season, an 8-6 loss to Foothill in its final non-league game.

Penalties and mistakes were costly for the Wildcats.

“Too many penalties on defense. We extended that drive in the first half, we had them 6-0 but we gave them three penalties,” Defensive coordinator Russ Emberson said. “We beat ourselves. I’m ok getting beat by a good team but when you beat yourself it's not good.”

The only scoring in the game on first half touchdowns by both teams and a third period safety for Foothill just moments after the Wildcat defense held the Trojans out of the end zone with a goal-line stand.

Jayce Moore got a short rushing touchdown for the Cats in the first quarter but the Wildcats missed the PAT, almost having a two point conversion pass. The Trojans would follow up during the first quarter for a hard fought touchdown through Taft's defense but got help with some penalties putting the score at 6-6.

The game would be a defensive contest with no one scoring again until the end of the third quarter where the Trojans would come close to a touchdown but the Cats were able to hold them at the goal line.

During the stop Bronson Ortlieb went down with a possible leg injury

and put on a gurney but was brought back a little later to the Cats sideline sitting out for the rest of the game. The Wildcats were able to get the ball back at the goal line however the Trojans defense broke through the offensive line getting a sack in the end zone for a safety.

Taft's offense had trouble getting down field in the fourth quarter mainly due to penalties. The defense was able to keep Foothill out of the end zone after the safety Taft tried a pass in the last 2 minutes of the game in hopes to make a comeback but the ball was intercepted by Foothill, closing out the game for the Cats.

What hurt the WildCats most this game were the penalties on both sides of the ball, slowing down the Cats offense and back peddling the defense giving Foothill the momentum they needed. Emberson commented on what he saw out on the defense, Head Coach Brian Durkan said the game left more questions than answers.

It gives me more questions because we’re better than that," he said..

"...We shot ourselves in the foot. Once we start pulling on the same end of the rope then we got a shot.”

The Wildcats (2-1) will open the South Sequoia League season Friday in Delano where they will be playing Kennedy (4-0).