Wildcats hand Cowboys first loss, head to Eloy

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior Isaac Pacheco hurdles a Willcox defender en route to a long gain. Pacheco scored twice at the start of the second half, on a kick-off return and on a punt return.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci fourth-year Pride Band member Emily Lundeen watches the drum major during the halftime performance.

MORENCI – The David Gallegos-coached Morenci Wildcats handed the visiting Willcox Cowboys their first loss in three games, 38-6, in Lawson Stadium on Sept. 7.

Morenci won the coin toss, deferred until the second half, and recovered its onside kick. The Wildcats drove 45 yards in six plays plus a penalty, for the games’ initial score. A Brandon Blair to Mark Roybal aerial for 10 yards with 3:08 elapsed gave the Wildcats a 6-0 lead. The conversion run attempt was stopped.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Second-year head coach David Gallegos consults with an assistant via a headset trying to figure out why a play didn’t work.

A Willcox fumble on third-and-7 was recovered by Isaac Pacheco. Blair connected with Ruben Casillas on first down and he scored from 32 yards out. A Christopher Roybal conversion kick raised the margin to 13 points with 7:07 left in the opening period.

Willcox punted on fourth-and-22, fumbled on third-and-7 after gaining 26 yards, was intercepted on first down, punted on fourth-and-8 following a gain of 48 yards, threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-12, and ran out of time 82 yards away to account for the rest of its first-half possessions.

Morenci was short on fourth-and-20 after gaining 15 yards and marched 37 yards in seven plays for another score. Blair ran in from seven yards out and the conversion attempt was short. Morenci led 19-0 with 7:00 left in the half.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: The Morenci Fire department lit up the sky with fireworks for each touchdown scored by the Wildcats.

The Wildcats had three other possessions, ending short on fourth-and-6, punted on fourth-and-15, and were intercepted on first-and-20.

Pacheco returned the second half kick-off 85 yards (25-0) and the conversion kick was wide left, Willcox punted on 4th-and-10 after gaining 46 yards, Pacheco returned the punt for a 21-yard score (31-0) and the conversion pass fell incomplete, Willcox punted on fourth-and-9, and Morenci was short on fourth-and-5.

The Cowboys got the ball with 3:25 left in the third period but were intercepted on third-an-7, only to return the favor after Morenci gained 11 yards. Quarterback Brady Welch ran in from the two with 1:23 left in the period. The conversion run was stopped.

Morenci controlled the ball for nearly eight minutes but was short on fourth-and-15 after gaining 26 yards on 11 plays.

Willcox got the ball 82 yards away, fumbled on the 19, and Carlos Bray ran in from six yards out on the second play. The conversion kick gave the Wildcats the final 38-6 score.

The Cowboys got the ball a final time 75 yards away but were short on third-and-20 as time ran out.

Morenci (3-1 overall, 0-1 Black Region) heads to Eloy for a non-region pairing with the Santa Cruz Dust Devils (1-2) on Friday, Sept. 14.