Critical penalties and turnovers hurt Firebaugh High in the second half as they saw an early lead slip away against the Avenal Buccaneers.
Leading 7-0 going into the second half, the Eagles lost the key West Sierra League game, 21-14.
The Eagles opened the game with a nice 76-yard drive, mixed with good runs and passes.
While deep in Avenal territory, Issac Leyva caught a pass from quarterback Manuel Bautista. He was able to shed an Avenal defender and ran all the way to the Buc four-yard line. From there, Aaron Fernandez carried the ball in for the score and a 7-0 lead.
Neither team was abler to generate much offense as both defenses came up with big stops. On a key play in the second quarter, Eagle defensive end Sebastian Perez came up with a big sack to stop an Avenal drive.
The first critical Firebaugh turnover came in the third quarter when a pass was picked off by the Bucs and taken to the Eagle 39-yard line. After two running plays, Firebaugh was called for pass interference, which put the ball on their 10-yard line. From there, a run up the middle put Avenal on the board to tie the game.
The second critical turnover came on Firebaugh’s next drive. When Bautista went back to pass, an Avenal defender came from his blind side and hit his arm as he was about to pass. The loose ball was recovered by the Bucs who took over on their 45-yard line. One play later, Avenal ran a counter up the middle and it was good for a 65 yard touchdown to give the Bucs their first lead, 14-7.
Avenal added another touchdown on a pass that was tipped but caught by a Bucs receiver. He was able to elude one tackler and run into the endzone for another score.
Firebaugh was able to close the gap in the fourth quarter when Ceja hit Leyva in the left corner of the endzone for a 20-yard touchdown pass.
The Eagles finished with 107 yards rushing on the night. Ceja was seven for eight passing for 86 yards and Bautista passed for 71 yards (eight for 16).