By Raymundo Frasquillo
The Morenci Wildcats (3-5 overall, 1-4 2A East) couldn’t get it together against the second-ranked Round Valley Elks (8-0 overall, 4-0 2A East) and fell 49-13.
Morenci entered the Oct. 7 home contest with Round Valley in the number 11 slot, clearly among the possible top 16 which qualify for state playoffs.
Morenci got within a possession with 6:47 left in the first half, covering 75 yards in 12 plays using 4:33. Quarterback Kyle Swan (10-17-118-0, 2 TDs) connected with receiver Easi Vanegas (7-94, TD) for a 21-yard score to cap the Wildcats’ third offensive possession. Vanegas added the conversion kick to trail by seven points.
But, the visitors covered 80 yards in one play using 11 seconds and added two more scores, covering 72 yards in five plays using 28 seconds and 30 yards in three plays using 19 seconds, to take a 35-7 advantage at halftime.
Elks running back Bryson Brown (12-253, 2 TDs) darted 80 yards for a touchdown with Sergio Comunez adding his third of seven conversion kicks, while quarterback Kyron Woolf (5-10-107-0) connected with Rhett Bingham (1-16) for a 16-yard TD plus extra point kick, and tossed a 34-yard TD to Dylan Workman (1-34). The extra point kick was good and there was little Morenci could do with just 22 seconds left in the half.
Round Valley opened the scoring on a 1-yard Marshall Donaldson (2-11, 2 TDs) run with 3:21 left in the first quarter, using 3:08 to cover 51 yards in seven plays, and Brown ran 11 yards with 35 seconds elapsed in the second quarter, using 1:26 to cover 73 yards in five plays, before Morenci found the end zone after punting on its initial two possessions.
Morenci deferred to the second half and went 50 yards in eight plays, but failed to get a first down on 4th-and-9 to turn over possession.
The Elks picked up where they left off, covering 70 yards in five plays using 1:50 and 74 yards in five plays using 2:19. Woolf found Donaldson for a 10-yard TD and Braiden Eisenford (2-47, TD) for a 24-yard TD, which gave them the lead, 49-7 with 1:03 left in the third quarter.
Morenci added its second TD on a Swan to Chris Beck 16-yard aerial for the final score.
On the night, the Elks amassed 535 yards on 41 carries and 107 yards on 5-11 passes with one interception while netting 12 first downs, compared to 95 yards on 31 carries and 118 yards on 10-17 passes and 10 first downs for Morenci.
The Wildcats drew 76 yards on nine penalties, lost 2-2 fumbles and had to punt five times. Meanwhile, Round Valley was flagged for 55 yards on five infractions, had no fumbles and punted twice with reserves.
Individually, Swan averaged 5.4 yards (5-27) per carry, Isaiah Aguinaga 4.5 yards (2-9), Sarrett 4.0 yards (12-48), Isaac Pacheco 1.3 yards (3-4), Jacob Fernandez 1 yard (1-2) and Frankie Gonzalez 0.8 yards (9-7). Aguinaga averaged 4 yards (2-8) per catch and Fernandez missed his only opportunity.
Defensively, Gavin Chavez totaled nine tackles; Mark Roybal four; Isaiah Aguinaga, Jordan Arbizo, Frankie Gonzalez, Isaac Pacheco and Isaiah Sanchez had three each; Andrew Esparza and Jacob Fernandez both had two and Zachary Esparza, Alexis Sanchez, Kyle Sarrett, Matt Tracy and Esai Vanegas recorded one each.
Aguinaga recorded a quarterback sack for a 7-yard loss and Brayden McCarthy an interception.
Morenci will next host the 13th-ranked Tombstone Yellow Jackets (4-3 overall, 1-2 2A South) at Lawson Stadium on Friday, Oct 14 to conclude the Wildcats’ home games.
“You will need to put on your big boy pants,” Morenci head football coach Gary Sandoval said. “We are not out of the playoffs. We need to win our next game.”
The Yellow Jackets bring a 35-33 (242-228) average score per game or 2-point margin into Lawson Stadium. The wins are 62-32 over Wellton Antelope (Aug. 26), 44-14 over San Carlos (Sept. 2), 38-14 over Miami (Sept. 16), and 62-16 over San Manuel (Sept. 23). The losses are 42-22 to Pima (Sept. 9), 64-7 to Eloy Santa Cruz (Sept. 30), and 46-7 to Benson (Oct. 7).
“There are little things we need to fix,” Sandoval said in preparation for the Tombstone game.
The Wildcats also need to learn a life lesson; one can only do what you can with what you have.
Duncan 56 Fort Thomas 48
In other scores, the Duncan Wildkats (4-3 overall, 2-2 1A East) outlasted the Fort Thomas Apaches (1-6 overall, 0-5 1A East) by the score of 56-48.
Duncan senior Chris Corona made a pivotal play on the night as he returned a kickoff 75 yards to break up a 20-20 tie with 1:47 left in the first half.
The win gave Duncan a 10-4 record in homecoming games in its 8-man era.
Duncan will travel to Phoenix to play NFL Yet Academy for its final regular season game while Fort Thomas will be away in Anthem to play Anthem Prep for its final game of the season.