FOOTBALL: Emperors down Hawks in regular season finale

The Dinuba Emperors defeat the Mission Oak Hawks 38-21 in final game of the regular season

TULARE – After scoring five touchdowns in the first half, the Dinuba Emperors defeated the Mission Oak Hawks 38-21 in the final regular season game of the season.

The Emperors came out quickly and strong in the first half, putting up two touchdowns in the first quarter, then three in the second. By halftime, they were up 32-6, only allowing the Hawks a single touchdown in the second. Though the Emperors didn’t score as many touchdowns in the second half, but the defense held the Hawks to two touchdowns and the final score was 38-21.

“Early on, defensively, we played really well,” Dinuba head coach CJ Lester said. “We kind of tapered off in the second half.”

The Hawks quarterback, Daniel Gonzalez, played an excellent game of football. He stayed patient in the pocket and completed several beautiful passes to his receivers, responsible for the Hawks’ scoring opportunities. But the Emperors figured out how to handle Gonzalez.

“I think we put pressure on him the way we wanted to,” Lester said. “We kept him in the pocket and got some sacks, some stops early.”

On the Hawks side, they played harder in the second half. Behind Gonzalez, they were able to score two more touchdowns, both receptions by Jacob Ramirez and Anthony Jackson respectively. Thanks to a good offensive line, Gonzalez’s patience can allow his receivers to run their routes and make sure they’re wide open by the time he throws.

“We challenged the kids at halftime to win the second half,” Mission Oak head coach Marty Martin said. “And we just dug ourselves too big a hole in the first half.”

The Dinuba defense held the Hawks to only three touchdowns and had two interceptions, one in the first quarter and one in the fourth. The Emperors stuck to a mainly running offense, able to move the ball down the field the way they’ve been practicing all season.

As the Emperors move into playoffs, the plan is to practice and play exactly the way they know how to. The Dinuba team have been playing together since elementary school and have good chemistry after so many years together. According to Lester, they take it week by week, treating every game as if it is a championship game.

The Hawks are also looking forward to playoffs. They’re a team that’s less familiar with each other and is still working to grow together as they continue their season. Brackets for the teams that made the playoffs will come out on Oct. 29 after Friday’s games.

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