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Gonzalez has big night, Crims take down Kofa
Even with an injury to their last fully healthy running back, Yuma High coach Curt Weber said he was going to run the football.
Even with a hamstring injury giving him trouble, Chris Gonzalez showed his early season form.
Gonzalez ran the ball 34 times for 131 yards and both Criminal touchdowns as Yuma High beat Kofa 13-7 on Friday at Doan Field.
"We can run the football," Weber said. "We're best when we run the football. We have a lot of work to do on the passing game. I mean a lot. But we were able to run the ball, keep the clock running, move the sticks and score. That's a good formula."
The Criminals (2-7) took a 7-6 lead in the second quarter on a 12-yard run by Gonzalez on third-and-7, capping an 11-play, 58-yard drive that featured 10 straight runs by the junior running back.
"The win is great," Gonzalez said. "We really wanted to get this one for the seniors and the coaches. We really worked hard this summer and this whole season to get that win."
Gonzalez was pressed back into full-time service after senior running back Arturo Vargas was involved in a stabbing Thursday afternoon, injuring his finger while defecting the blade of an attacker. Yuma Police Department is still searching for the assailant.
It added to an already pressure-filled game that featured Pro Football Hall of Famer Curley Culp in attendance and acting as an honorary captain as part of Yuma High Athletic Hall of Fame induction weekend.
"It was just putting it all aside and doing it for the seniors and the team," Gonzalez said. "I know they wanted it so I had to give it to them somehow."
Gonzalez added a second touchdown late in the third quarter, capping a nine-play drive with a 2-yard run.
"Kofa played really good defense and it was really hard to run the ball," Gonzalez said. "We kept chunking it and chunking it and we got our touchdowns."
Weber said he was impressed with how Gonzalez, who missed a couple of games due to a hamstring injury against El Centro-Southwest, handled one his largest workloads of the year.
"Arturo is a huge leader on both sides of the ball," Weber said. "To compensate for his loss two different places, Chico ran the ball well. His hammy, he just doesn't have conditioning on it yet. It kind of faded in the fourth quarter. But overall the kids played hard. (Kofa) gave us their best start early, we weathered the storm and then it was just matching up with them after that."
Kofa (2-7) had a chance to tie late, taking over on its own 19 with 3 minutes, 40 seconds left. The Kings drove down to the 34, but quarterback Tim Baumgarner – who finished 11-for-24 for 189 yards and an interception – was incomplete on his last three throws of the night.
Kofa had taken the opening drive 81 yards for a touchdown in 3:35 on an 8-yard run by Baumgarner, who was 5 for 6 passing for 104 yards in the first quarter.
"We had some opportunities and some good plays on offense," Kofa coach John Blabe said. "We just didn't execute. That's it in a nutshell. At times we'd stop them and at other times we'd look like a different team out there defensively. Offensively we had two or three plays that really hurt us. ... We had our opportunities. They were there. We had a tendency to take plays off and in a big game you can't take any off."
The win was the fourth for the Criminals in the last five meetings between the teams. Kofa won last year at Doan Field.