It seemed like the perfect start for the Indio Rajahs, a touchdown on their opening drive against the only team the Rajahs defeated last season.
But that opening touchdown, a five-yard run by David Alvarado seven minutes into the game, turned out to be the only good news for the Rajahs in a 45-6 non-league varsity football loss to the Yucca Valley Trojans in Yucca Valley.
The Trojans, using a balanced attack of passing and rushing, scored 45 points in three quarters against the Rajahs, who struggled to get their offense going after driving 43 yards for a touchdown after recovering a Yucca Valley fumble early in the first quarter.
“We turned the ball over, we didn’t execute and we didn’t match the fight of Yucca Valley,” Indio head coach Martin White said after his team dropped to 1-2 on the season. Yucca Valley improved to 3-0.
After the Rajahs scored their touchdown to take the early 6-0 lead, it didn’t take Yucca Valley long to respond. The Trojans took just four plays to drive 43 years for the tying touchdown, an 18-yard pass from Elijah Lynch to Jared Mutter.
When the Rajahs fumbled the ensuing kickoff return, Yucca Valley needed just four more play to score the go-ahead touchdown. This time it was Lynch finding Blade Hildebrand with a five-yard scoring pass and a 12-6 lead.
The Rajahs would lose two more fumbles in the second quarter as Yucca Valley scored four more touchdowns. Lucas Lopez scored on runs of 17 and 16 yards, while Lynch tossed another scoring pass to Hildebrand and later ran 11 yards for a score for a 38-6 lead at halftime.
In addition to the three lost fumbles the Rajahs put the ball on the ground three other times, often for loses of yardage.
“It was us making mistakes,” White said. “And also, we don’t do a good job of responding to adversity and (Yucca Valley) did a great job of responding to adversity. We had some adverse and we succumbed to it. I’ve got to do a better job of changing that.”
The Rajahs, who managed just 44 yards of offense in the first half, moved the ball better in the third quarter. But it was Yucca Valley who scored the only touchdown in the period on a 57-yard run up the middle by Lopez. That pushed Lopez to 179 yards on the night and set up and running clock for the fourth quarter with the Rajahs trailed by the required 35 points of more.
Indio finished the night with just 144 yards, with 54 yards coming on the ground from Alvarado on seven carries. The Rajahs managed just four complete passes on the night for 31 yards, another area White said the team needs to work on as it enters Desert Valley League play next week.
Yucca Valley finished the evening with 380 yards, including 129 passing yards.
“I take my hat off to (Yucca Valley),” White said. “They have made a lot of improvement over the last two or three years. And I’m not doing a good job with our kids because we are not making the same improvement.”
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I – David Alvarado 5 run (kick failed)
YV — Jared Nutter 18 pass from Elijah Lynch (kick failed)
YV — Blade Hildebrand 5 pass from Lynch (run failed)
YV – Lucas Lopez 17 run (pass failed)
YV – Lopez 16 run (Hildebrand kick)
YV — Hildebrand 5 pass from Lynch (kick failed)
YV — Lynch 11 run (kick failed)
YV — Lopez 57 run (Hildebrand kick)
Rushing: Indio – David Alvarado 7-54, Jose Perez 8-16, Dimitri Long 13-20, Adam Ceja 3-12, Fred Hearne 4-5, Damian Lopez 2=5, Isaac Brown 2-2, Aubuchon Martinez 1-minus 1. Yucca Valley – Lucas Lopez 13-179, Jake Moore 6-50, Elijah Lynch 10-32.
Passing: Indio Dimitri Long 3-6-0-16, Aubuchon Martinez 1-3-0-15. Yucca Valley – Elijah Lynch 11-17-0-129
Receiving: Indio – Joel Guitierrez 1-24, Andres Alvarez 1-15, Damian Lopez 2-minus 8. Yucca Valley – Blade Hildenbrand 3-31, Jake Moore 2-30, Seth Nounnan 2-24, Quaid Harmon 20-21, Jared Nutter 1-18, Lucas Lopez 1-5.