Birmingham Battles to Victory Over Newbury Park


Photographs by Hudson Tan

The team gathers together before the game.

Marie E. Rodriguez and Jack Freeman

“Entering the game, I was expecting a win just as I always do. Many people believed we were going to lose, but I’ve always had faith and confidence in my team that no matter who we played, we would always win,” stated #70, Juan Godinez, senior offensive lineman.

Friday, August 28th was Birmingham’s first home football game and the Patriots wasted no time. Birmingham started off the first quarter strong by scoring a touchdown, but missed the PAT kick and took a 6-0 lead.  Newbury Park answered the Patriots’ score with a touchdown later in the first quarter, also missing the PAT kick to tie the score at 6-6. Birmingham then started a promising drive with a 40 yard kickoff return by #4, Tylin Scott. The Patriots charged all the way into the red zone, but were slowed down by a false start penalty that sent them back 5 yards. The team was unable to convert a first down and missed the field goal attempt.

Newbury Park was eager to get points in the second quarter and their offense showed it. The Panthers took a 13-6 lead with a touchdown and a successful PAT kick. Birmingham knew that they needed to respond to the change in score, but had trouble getting points. The Patriots had a very strong drive due to #3, Trayvon Wilson making a big play to get the team into field goal territory. Birmingham was stopped and attempted to kick a field goal, but missed. This resulted in a 32 yard missed field goal return by Newbury Park. The defense shut down the Panther offense on the drive following the return, leaving the score at halftime 13-6 in favor of Newbury Park.

When asked about the game plan for the second quarter, Godinez responded with the effective strategy that the team had in mind. “The game plan was to continue doing what we were doing in the first half. The defense was able to keep us close but our offense was firing on all cylinders.  Our offensive line–Jair, Jose, Justin, Mike, and I– were able to give Gabe enough time to find the open receivers, and we were able to give all of our running backs holes to run through. Our main concern was finishing the drives with points. As an offense we were driving up and down the field, but we were not able to score points. But in the second half we were able to finish the drives, which led us to the win.”

Birmingham started off strong with their first drive in the third quarter along with a big play by Trayvon Wilson that helped drive the Patriots down the field. The team drove all the way into the red zone and finished the drive with a one yard rushing touchdown and a successful two point conversion which gave them a 14-13 lead. The defense played very well not giving up any points throughout the third quarter.

The game was still close 14-13 in favor of Birmingham at the start of the fourth quarter–a very fierce offensive and defensive quarter for both teams. Birmingham was driving the ball down the field, but turned the ball over giving the Panthers possession of the ball. Shortly after, the ball was once again Birmingham’s as #45, Solomone Taufehema intercepted a pass to get the ball back. The Patriots did not take the offensive opportunity for granted as #9, Ricky Clemons, scored a 12 yard rushing touchdown along with a successful 2 point conversion giving the Patriots a 22-13 lead with less than four minutes remaining in the game. Newbury Park scored a passing touchdown on the following drive changing the score to 22-20, but it wasn’t enough as the clock ran out of time as Birmingham won.  Quarterback Gabriel Cruz credited, running back Sterling Salguero’s big 70 yard run as the biggest play and stated that the team came a “really long way by working together.” This improved teamwork  proves how deserving these athletes were of a major win.