Two late turnovers seal Woodlake’s first loss in “Battle for the Belt” game
By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
PORTERVILLE – For the fourth week in a row the Tigers failed to take an advantage of a chance to win at the end of the game. This week it was at the hands of the Granite Hills Grizzlies 13-0, in their annual “Battle for the Belt” game. The loss marks the the first time in the rivalry’s five-year history that the belt will not be kept at Woodlake High School.
“This is was the fourth game in a row where our boys battled hard but just weren’t able to pull it out,” said Woodlake head coach Jeff Johnson.
Granite Hills (8-2, 3-2) took possession of the ball first and drove down the field, scoring on a run play with about 10 minutes to go.
After that opening score defense was the name of the game as both teams forced the other to punt or turned the ball over on downs 12 times.
It wasn’t until late in the third quarter that the Tigers (3-7, 0-5) got their first chance at scoring. With three minutes left the Tigers recovered a fumble on the Granite Hills 47-yard line. But were only able to gain 13 yards on that drive before turning over on downs early in the fourth quarter.
Woodlake did force the Grizzlies to punt the ball back to them but once again were unable to put a drive together.
With three minutes left the Tigers had the ball once again but threw an interception at mid-field. One minute later Granite Hills turned that turnover into points to make it 13-0.
Another interception on the Tigers final drive of the game sealed the win for the Grizzlies as they ran out the clock. Granite Hills’ Andy Garcia led the Grizzly rushing attack with 64 yards and one score. Senior Jasper Berumen had the other rushing score.
Even though the Tigers will in fact miss the D-V playoffs for the first time in five years, Johnson is happy with the way the program is going. He is mostly impressed with the way the players battled through when things were not going their way.