Brahmas lose Branding Iron for second time in a row


With a decades-long rivalry and both teams’ reputation at stake, tensions were high at the annual Branding Iron football game between Diamond Bar High School and Walnut High. But the Brahmas’  high hopes of bringing back the Branding Iron to DBHS, having lost last year after six straight wins, only made the 27-20 loss even more devastating.

Despite being plagued with multiple penalties, the Brahmas came back and took a lead 14-7 in the third quarter. However, a successful eight-play drive by Walnut with a minute and a half left signaled a key turning point for the Mustangs, leading to their win. The game was forced to end a minute early and with a Mustang victory after rumors of an active threat on campus spread throughout the stadium. (More on that incident can be found at

On the opening drive, DB was able to complete a third-down conversion with junior quarterback Dylan Karanickolas completing a 20-yard pass to senior wide receiver Kai Smith. However, Walnut’s defense was able to sack Karanickolas and force two incomplete passes on the second and third downs, forcing DB to punt.

The Brahmas’ punt was solid, but with holes in their special teams’ defense, Walnut was able to return the punt to DB’s 40. Again, the Mustangs found another hole in DB’s defense and ran for 24 yards. A penalty was called on DB for holding, which allowed the Mustangs to score on their drive with a 6-yard rushing touchdown. Combined with a successful PAT, they took the lead 7-0 with seven minutes left in the quarter.

The Brahmas responded with multiple handoffs to senior running back Jeremiah Chukwadobe, who made several first downs to get DB onto the Mustangs’ 35. On the next two downs, Karanickolas was able to catch Walnut off guard with two passing plays, which resulted in sophomore receiver Chase Wells catching a 12-yard pass for DB’s first touchdown. The Brahmas completed the PAT to tie the game 7-7 and end the first quarter.

In the second quarter, the Brahmas repeated the same strategy, enabling them to move onto Walnuts’ half of the field. On the same drive, Karanickolas threw a 35-yard pass to Wells for another passing touchdown, followed by an extra point. DB led 14-7 and maintained their lead to halftime.

To start off the second half, DB kicked off to Walnut, and with good defense, the Brahmas tackled the Walnut returner at their 20. The Brahmas continue their solid defense with key stops, giving the Mustangs only a couple of yards.

By the end of the drive, Walnut was forced to a three and out at their own 25. However, Walnut matched the Brahmas’ intensity and also forced DB to punt on its fourth down. With the match at a standstill for most of the quarter, a scuffle broke out between two players, resulting in a Mustang being ejected for striking a DB player.

Instead of lowering the Mustangs’ morale, this seemed to motivate them even more. Walnut was able to return a punt to DB’s 37, and using their run-first mentality, the Mustangs ended their drive with an 11-yard rushing touchdown to tie the game, finishing the quarter 14-14.

With the momentum shift carrying on into the last quarter, the Mustangs were able to score yet another TD, running through DB’s entire defensive line. The 88-yard run completely changed the mood of the game, and with an extra point, the Mustangs took the lead 21-14 with eight minutes to play.

After the following kickoff return, the Brahmas fumbled the ball, giving the Mustangs possession and a favorable position at DB’s 40. Walnut scored on the same drive, but missed the one-point conversion, extending their lead to 27-14.

In an attempt to get back into the game, the Brahmas used Chukwadobe to get them moving up the field. A hard tackle from Walnut was penalized, allowing DB to move up to the 35. Again, Karanickolas fed Chukwadobe and he found an open lane, running for a 35-yard touchdown. Like Walnut, the Brahmas missed the one point conversion, making the final score 27-20. This would be the last TD of the night, and a loss for the Brahmas, with the game abruptly ending after players and spectators evacuated from the stadium.

This coming Friday, the Brahmas hope to find their first win of the season against Bonita.


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Panic at Branding Iron