Wildcats host Indians for homecoming

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior Ruben Casillas struck twice within 20 seconds against Bisbee, scoring on a 37-yard run with four seconds left in the third quarter, and returning an interception 40 yards in the first 15 seconds of the fourth quarter of a 64-20 win Sept. 21.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – Morenci welcomes the New Mexico Bayard Cobre Indians for the initial pairing in a homecoming game Friday, Sept. 28. The Wildcats are 22-14 for homecoming games held in Lawson Stadium (since 1982). Miami, the 2017 opponent, left with a 45-0 loss.

The Indians bring a 1-4 overall record to Morenci, a 1-1 road mark, and an average score per game of 13-29 (66-129) or a deficit of 16. Cobre has faced five New Mexico teams, with losses of 32-12 to Santa Teresa (Aug. 24), 15-12 to Robertson (Aug. 31), 41-22 to Silver (Sept. 14), and 42-0 to Deming (Sept. 21). The lone win was 20-16 over Chaparral (Sept. 7).

Meanwhile, since falling 15-0 to the Eagles in Thatcher Aug. 17, the Wildcats have posted wins of 66-0 over Tucson Santa Rita, 21-6 over Benson, 38-6 over Willcox, 42-12 over Eloy Santa Cruz, and 64-20 over Bisbee. Morenci (5-1) has averaged a score of 39-10 (233-59), or a margin of 29, and is 2-0 in Lawson Stadium.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Junior quarterback Brandon Blair directed Morenci’s offense, scoring two of seven running touchdowns plus two conversion runs against Bisbee. The Wildcats left Warren Ballpark with a 64-20 win Sept. 21. Morenci hosts New Mexico Bayard Cobre for homecoming Friday, Sept. 28.

Morenci is 9-7-1 versus the Indians from 1974-2015 and won the most recent home contest 33-21 (Aug. 28, 2015), but the teams have averaged a 15-15 (257-252) score per game.

“It is another opportunity to get better,” MHS coaches said. Improvement with each outing has been the goal of the Wildcats in their quest to be the best.

Last week, the David Gallegos-coached Wildcats handed the Bisbee Pumas (3-2) a second loss at Warren Ballpark, 64-20. The visitors led 48-20 after three quarters, 32-12 at halftime, and 10-6 following the first quarter.

Morenci’s defense struck early, scoring a safety during the Pumas’ initial offensive possession, sacking the quarterback on 3rd-and-10 from the 11, with 1:40 elapsed in the game. Seniors Matthew Garcia and Isaac Pacheco tackled the signal caller in the end zone.

However, Bisbee recovered the ball on the ensuing kickoff, driving 59 yards in 11 plays using 4:27, scoring the game’s initial touchdown. A Will Wright to Dano Lopez 17-yard pass capped the drive. The conversion attempt failed. The Pumas led 6-2 with 6:08 elapsed. It proved to be their only lead of the game, getting no closer than 20 points in the second half.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: A large segment of the Morenci’s student body was on hand for a bonfire Wednesday, Sept. 26. The 2018 homecoming game is Friday, Sept. 28.

Bisbee punted during its next three consecutive possessions, recovered a second Morenci fumble and drove it 58 yards for a second Wright to Lopez score. The Pumas trailed 24-12 with 2:25 left in the half.

The Pumas ran out of time and turned the ball over on their next three possessions, added a third Wright to Lopez TD, were intercepted, fumbled, and were intercepted again to account for their other possessions. A safety was scored defensively, but the deficit was 26 points, 40-14 with 3:51 left in the third quarter

Morenci scored during seven of nine times on offense, losing a fumble on a punt and running out the clock on the other, plus once on defense by returning an interception for six points.

Mark Roybal covered 20 yards and Matthew Harrington added the conversion run with 3:24 left in the first quarter (10-6); Pacheco ran 30 yards plus Roybal to Carlos Bray for a conversion pass (18-6) with 55 seconds elapsed, Brandon Blair seven yards (24-6) with 7:01 left, and Pacheco 10 yards plus a Blair conversion run (32-12) with 1:14 left in the second quarter; Blair ran four yards plus added a conversion run (40-12) with 8:47 left and Ruben Casillas 37 yards plus a Harrington conversion run (48-20) with four seconds left in the third quarter; and Tanner Hudman ran seven yards plus a Harrington conversion run (64-20) with 8:12 left to play.

Casillas returned an interception 40 yards plus Pacheco added the conversion run (56-20) 15 seconds into the fourth quarter.

Unofficially, the Wildcats outgained the Pumas by 126 yards (398-272).