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Aztecs beat Wildcats for Homecoming win
BARSTOW • Barstow’s defense forced as many turnovers as the Twentynine Palms’ football team scored Friday night.
The Aztecs capitalized on eight turnovers en route to a 30-8 victory over the Wildcats during Barstow’s annual Homecoming game in front of an energetic crowd at Langworthy Field.
Senior tailback James Noble rushed for 164 yards on 32 carries and three touchdowns, including a 32-yard score in the fourth quarter where he spun out of a tackle and raced down the visitors’ sideline for the score. Noble has amassed 903 yards rushing in just four games this season. He had 258 yards last week against fellow DeAnza League opponent Yucca Valley and 319 yards in a loss to Antelope Valley in week two.
“He’s a hard runner,” said second-year Barstow head coach Mike Esposito. “He keeps his feet moving. How many yards did he finish with? That was a bad night (for him).”
The stingy Aztec defense held the Wildcats to minus 13 yards in the first half, including four takeaways. Twentynine Palms’ David Haney fumbled on the team’s first offensive play from scrimmage at the 25-yardline to set the tone for the night. Senior kicker Sultan Hamdan capitalized with a 42-yard field goal.
Barstow’s Kyle Pittman got the first of his two interceptions on the night on Twentynine Palms’ next series. Eight plays later, Noble punched it in from one yard out to make it 10-0.
The Wildcat offense opened the second half marching down the field before senior Tracy Venable, who was playing in his first game since getting injured in week one, picked off Mason Lowery at the Aztec 22. Barstow would punt before the defense would come up big again. Barstow’s Austin Crank would sack Lowery and jar the ball loose, where David Green would scoop it up and race it down to the one-yardline. Noble punched it in on next play to make it 17-0.
Things got worse for the visitors on the next series. The Wildcats were forced to punt but the ball took a bad bounce back toward the line of scrimmage. Venable alertly scooped it up and raced 36 yards for the touchdown to make it 23-0 with 2:27 left in the third.
Twentynine Palms would finally get on the board on the next series, marching 80-yards on 12 plays capped by Cody Hall’s 2-yard run.
But Pittman’s second INT would halt yet another Wildcat drive setting up Barstow at the visitors 43-yard line. Four plays later, Noble scored his third touchdown of the day to ice the game with 3:53 to go.
“That’s the most physical team we’ve played in four weeks,” said Esposito. “I was happy with the way our kids responded in the fourth quarter. I think our defense is as good as anyone playing right now.”
Barstow travels to Hesperia to play Sultana next week before opening Desert Sky League play at Burroughs.