Region cellar at stake in Morenci, Wildcats falter in the Round Valley Dome

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci senior Carlos Bray follows his blockers for some yardage. The Wildcats used the running game for two touchdowns, outscoring the hosts 12-7 in the fourth quarter, but left Eagar with a 47-12 Black Region loss Oct. 18. Morenci welcomes Pima for its final regular-season home game Oct. 25.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – The Joseph Garcia-coached Wildcats host their final home game of the regular season this week. Morenci welcomes the Pima Roughriders for a Black Region contest and Parent’s Night Oct. 25.

The Wildcats have a 15-6 advantage over the Roughriders and are 9-2 in Lawson Stadium since 1985. The Roughriders’ wins were 9-7 in 1996 (Oct. 4) and 40-36 in 2010 (Oct. 22). Morenci has an average score of 25-12 (524-249) per game or by a 13-point margin during the same span, leaving Pima with a 29-12 region win in 2018.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior spirit line members will be on hand for the Parents Night game with Pima Oct. 25. The quintet is, from left, Danielle Figueroa, Yrliani Molina, Mariah Gipson, Kaleena Carlin, and Madison Vaughn.

This season, No. 16 Pima (3-4 overall, 0.0992 rating, 0-2 region for 4th of five) enters Lawson Stadium with an average score of 20-21 (137-148) points per game or a 1-point deficit.

The three wins are 28-24 over Willcox (Sept. 6), 34-14 over Whiteriver Alchesay (Sept. 13), and 42-6 over Tombstone (Sept. 27). The four losses are 16-14 to Phoenix Arizona Lutheran (Aug. 30), 18-12 to Bisbee (Sept. 20), 42-7 to Thatcher (Oct. 4), and 28-0 to Saint Johns (Oct. 10).

Morenci (3-5, minus 0.1930, 0-2 region for 5th) has lost its last three games. The No. 18 Wildcats have been outscored by an average of 27-18 (219-142) per game or by a 9-point margin. The three wins are 42-0 over Tucson Santa Rita (Aug. 30) and 14-6 over Willcox (Sept. 12), both on the road plus 32-26 at home over Bisbee (Sept. 27). The five losses are 49-7 to Benson (Sept. 6), 28-7 to Santa Cruz (Sept. 20), 21-20 to New Mexico Bayard Cobre (Oct. 5), 42-8 to Thatcher (Oct. 11), and 47-12 to Round Valley (Oct. 18).

The other region pairing this week is No. 2 Round Valley (5-2, 13.2396, 2-0 region for 1st) at No. 6 Thatcher (5-3, 11.6847, 2-1 region for 3rd). Saint Johns (6-2, 8.1260, 2-1 region for 2nd), ranked No. 8, is at No. 9 Benson (6-2, 7.8826, 2-0 San Pedro Region for 1st).

Morenci’s other 2019 opponents have been No. 3 Eloy Santa Cruz (7-2, 12.3723, 2-1 Agua Fria Region for 2nd of five), No. 9 Benson (6-2, 7.8826, 3-0 San Pedro Region for 1st), No. 11 Bisbee (6-2, 4.8590, 1-1 San Pedro Region for 2nd), No. 17 Willcox (4-4, minus 0.0264, 1-1 San Pedro Region for 3rd), No. 29 Tucson Santa Rita (3-5, minus 8.7827, 0-3 San Pedro Region for 5th), and New Mexico Bayard Cobre (3-4, 1-0 3A District 3 for 2nd of four).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci junior Jadad Cortez and the Pride Band will be performing during the home game with Pima on Oct. 25. The group received an excellent rating during the 54th Eastern Arizona College Band Day on Oct. 19.

Round Valley – 47, Morenci – 12

Following three consecutive outings of not turning in a complete game, Morenci first-year head coach Joseph Garcia again asked the Wildcats how they would respond. The Wildcats have their final home game this week, sit below .500 (3-5) with two games left in the regular season, and are not in the top 16 for the post-season.

“I couldn’t be prouder (of the first half in Eagar with 13-0 deficit),” he said. “(But), you have to be able to answer the bell in the second half.”

Morenci held the ball for all but 18 seconds of the first quarter after receiving the opening kick. The Wildcats earned four first downs in gaining 53 of 78 yards, but, lost 10 through four penalties and turned the ball over on 4th-and-18.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Round Valley junior Rylee Hamblin comes down with a pass against Morenci senior Angel Arrellin. The Elks scored twice on a pair of second-quarter receptions and had a 13-0 halftime advantage.

The host Elks scored in 13 seconds the first time getting the ball. A 67-yard touchdown pass and ensuing first of five conversion kicks lit up their side of the scoreboard. Seniors Tayvin Bevel and Kaleb Newby connected for the initial score. Senior Sergio Camunez made it 7-0 with 3:00 elapsed in the second quarter.

Round Valley also scored through the air on its second possession, in five plays covering 80 yards using 2:07. Senior Kole Soderquist turned a Bevel aerial into a 42-yard score. The conversion kick was wide right, but the Elks led 13-0 with 3:44 left in the half.

Morenci had three second-quarter possessions totaling 8:34, but could not get in the end zone. The Wildcats punted twice after three plays netting nine yards and minus 24 yards and gained 40 yards before running out of time 13 yards short.

Round Valley scored four times in the third quarter, totaling 162 yards in 12 plays plus three penalties using 4:49. The second-half kick-off covered 21 yards in two plays plus a penalty using 33 seconds, the second possession covered 59 yards in four plays using 1:17, the third covered 64 yards plus two penalties in 1:40, and the fourth covered 18 yards in three plays using 1:19.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci junior spirit line member Jasmine Altamirano reacts to an on-field play in Eagar.

Sophomore Jovan Ortiz took a Bevell pass 21 yards (19-0) and the 2-point conversion failed with 43 seconds elapsed, Bevell went 20 yards and a Camunez conversion kick made it 26-0 with 7:57 left, senior Dylan Jordan ran five yards and a Camunez conversion kick made it 33-0 with 1:34 left, and senior Marc Irigoyen ran two yards and Camunez conversion kick made it 40-0 with six seconds left.

Morenci marched 72 yards in eight plays using 4:01. Senior carload Bray ran three yards to pay dirt with 8:01 left in the fourth quarter.

Round Valley scored a final time with a 6-play, 45-yard drive using 3:27. Camunez went 18 yards and added the conversion kick for the Elks final seven points.

The Wildcats covered 72 yards in seven plays using 3:34. Senior Matthew Harrington capped the drive from 19 yards out. The conversion run was stopped short.

Round Valley led its homecoming game 47-12 with 44 seconds remaining. The Elks took a knee 10 seconds later to wind down the clock.

The final word by the public address announcer to the homecoming crowd, “Would you have thought you would cheer for the Redskins in the dome, on homecoming?” following the Saint Johns at Thatcher 14-7 final score. Round Valley topped the Redskins 21-7 on Oct. 4.

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