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Battle for the Axe
Victor Valley recaptures coveted trophy
BARSTOW • Another Axe Game. Another back and forth, hard-hitting battle.
Another time the Axe is changing hands.
Victor Valley emerged with the coveted trophy after defeating Barstow, 31-24, on Friday night at Langworthy Field in the 90th edition of the Axe Game. Barstow (3-5, 0-2 Desert Sky League) still holds the all-time series lead 47-39-4.
“It means everything to get the Axe back,” said Victor Valley senior lineman Tony Gutierrez, who forced a fumble and had a sack in the game. “It means everything in the world to us. We needed a big win after we had that fall with Apple Valley for our Bell. We needed to win a rivalry game.”
Jackrabbits running back Donald Mitchell scored early in the fourth quarter to give the Jackrabbits the lead at 31-24. Then he helped chew up clock and yardage to hang on for the win.
It looked easy as Mitchell gained 73 yards in the final quarter of the game to finish with 98 yards, but this Axe Game was filled with the typical twists and turns this rivalry has become known for.
Victor Valley (4-3, 2-0 DSL) jumped ahead, 17-0, early in the second quarter, only to have Barstow score 24 unanswered points to a 24-17 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Victor Valley’s Luis Rosales hit a 25-yard field goal to make it 3-0 on the ’Rabbits’ second drive. Barstow fumbled on the first play of its next possession and Victor Valley quickly made it 10-0 when Daniel Walker and Jamal Tate hooked up for a 42-yard TD pass. Walker hit Chris Estrella-Ramirez for a five-yard TD to make it 17-0 early in the second quarter.
But Barstow came roaring back. Brandon McHenry got the Aztecs on the board with a 7-yard TD run and quarterback Jordan Londo rolled out untouched for a two-yard touchdown a little more than two minutes later. Barstow evened the score with a 27-yard field goal at the end of the first half.
The Aztecs took their first lead of the game on Dominic Manly’s 72-yard burst through the Jackrabbits defense in the third quarter, but it was the Aztecs’ last big play.
Other than that 72-yard run, Barstow gained just 73 yards in the half after amassing 212 yards, all on the ground, in the first half.
“We came out in the second half and got that 15 yard penalty that killed that first drive,” Barstow head coach Ray Silva said. “I think we had the momentum going into the second half, coming back from a 17-point deficit. We just couldn’t get our offense going in the second half.”
Walker was huge for the Jackrabbits all night and was even better in the second half. He tied the game on a 6-yard run in the third quarter and finished with a game-high 138 yards rushing on 16 attempts and was 6-for-14 with 83 yards in the air.
Barstow’s Manly finished with 97 yards on four carries, and teammate Oshua Rothwell also hit 97 yards rushing on nine carries.
The Aztecs have a bye next week. There are two games left in the regular season, both on the road. Barstow will be at Silverado Nov. 1, and at Granite Hills the following week.