Wesley Wilson Jr. knew someone needed to lift a stagnant Bakersfield offense, and the senior running back was happy to oblige Friday night.
Wilson ran for 141 of his 142 yards in the second half and scored the go-ahead touchdown late in the third quarter, lifting the Drillers to a 24-17 win over Ridgeview.
A pair of short touchdown drives set up by interceptions aside, the Driller offense hadn't done much since the opening period, going more than a quarter-and-a-half without picking up a first down.
In the process, they found themselves in a 14-7 deficit. Following a field goal, Ridgeview pulled ahead 17-14, after Zion Hall blew past the defense for a 55-yard touchdown.
But on the ensuing Bakersfield drive, Wilson looked like a wrecking ball. He shed three tackles for a 25-yard carry, then burst his way into the end zone from five yards out.
“We knew something had to be done," Wilson said. "We were slacking when we first came out. Once we started running the ball we started seeing more things open and we just went on from there.
”We figured out that our passing wasn’t working, most of our runs weren’t working. Once we started diving and pounding the ball on them, everything opened up.”
Wilson made an even bigger run in the fourth quarter that helped ice the game away. With BHS facing a 2nd-and-37, he bounced outside and raced for a 48-yard gain to keep the clock moving. The play set up a 37-yard Ryan Bonner field goal with 51.7 seconds remaining.
The Wolf Pack's comeback hopes took a severe hit when starting quarterback Justin Hinzo was unable to return on the final drive after sustaining a shoulder injury.
Backup Anthony Ramirez was also injured earlier in the game, leaving third-stringer Breydin Rushing in command of a drive that was derailed immediately when a shotgun snap went over his head on the first play.
It was a night of missed opportunities for the Wolf Pack, who came away empty from the Driller 5, when Hinzo was sacked with no timeouts in the final seconds of the second quarter.
Ridgeview also seemingly had a chance for a scoop-and-score on a fourth-quarter strip sack, but was unable to corral the loose ball.
A week after his own team was done in by critical mistakes, Bakersfield coach Michael Stewart praised the Drillers' resolve Friday.
“This game is going to have momentum swings," he said. "Proud of our guys to fight through the early mistakes and were able to nail it down at the end.”
Bakersfield 24, Ridgeview 17
R 0 7 10 0 — 17
B 7 0 14 3 — 24
B - Easterwood 25 pass to C. Bonner (R. Bonner kick)
R - Hinzo 21 pass to Lucas (Guillen kick)
B - I. Jernagin 1 run (R. Bonner kick)
R - Guillen 37 field goal
R- Hinzo 55 pass to Hall (Guilen kick)
B - Wilson 5 run (R. Bonner kick)
B - R. Bonner 37 field goal
RUSHING — R: Amos 18-81, Hinzo 16-53, Rushing 1 (negative) 3, Ramirez 1-4, Zendejas 7-35, Hall 1-2. B: Wilson Jr. 15-142, Ia. Jernagin 11-88, Easterwood 6-7, Bell 1-0, C. Bonner 1-10, Team 1 (negative) 12
PASSING — R: Hinzo 14-33-218-1; Rushing 1-1-0-0. B: Easterwood 7-14-167-1.
RECEIVING — R: Hall 8-119, Rushing 1 (negative) 1, Alexander-Williams 2-55, Deans 1-2, Lucas 3-45. B: C. Bonner 3-28, Wilson Jr. 2-4, Is. Jernagin 1-6, McCray 1-10.
W-L: B 2-2, R 2-2