Volcano Vista’s high-scoring offense got a big boost from the defense when the team needed it most.
With No. 8-seeded Mayfield closing in on a tying touchdown, the Hawks’ defense quickly turned a potential tie game into a two-touchdown lead midway through the third quarter.
A pivotal defensive touchdown proved critical for the top-seeded Hawks, who held on for a 35-28 victory in the 6A quarterfinals at Nusenda Community Stadium on Friday night.
“It’s playoff football,” said Hawks head coach Chad Wallin. “It doesn’t matter who you play at this point in the season. It’s going to be a battle.”
Down 21-14 at the half, Mayfield (7-4) appeared to swing the momentum when linebacker Angel Franco picked off a Diego Pavia pass, and returned it to the Volcano Vista 24.
Four plays into the drive, Trojans running back Mathew Riley ripped off a run, and was headed toward the goal line when a pair of Volcano Vista players wrapped up Riley.
Riley, fighting for yards, had the ball stripped and the loose ball was picked up by the Hawks’ Andres Castillo.
Castillo took off from his own five and, aided by ample blocking, scored on a 95-yard fumble return to turn a potential tie game into a 28-14 Volcano Vista lead.
“All week watching film, we thought their running backs carried it loose, and we worked on strip drills,” Wallin said. “…That was a huge play for us, and it got us the momentum.”
Mayfield, which rallied to tie from 14-0 deficit six minutes into the game, wasn’t quite ready to pack up for Las Cruces.
Isaac Chavez’s 18-yard TD run with 32 ticks left in the third had Volcano Vista firmly in control, 35-14, with 12 minutes to play.
After a rare Volcano Vista punt, Mayfield drove 55 yards for its third touchdown. It was capped by a bit of trickery as Riley — who carried 24 times for 168 yards — tossed a 24-yard halfback option pass to a wide-open Casey Harrison closing the gap to 35-21.
Volcano Vista did itself no favors fumbling the ball away on its next possession, and Mayfield took advantage of that goodwill with 2:19 left in the game on Riley’s six-yard score.
Volcano Vista then survived an onside kick, and after punting the ball back to Mayfield, survived two final pass plays as time expired.
“Our defense played well, but Volcano Vista is the toughest one to stop in the state,” said Mayfield coach Michael Bradley. “Nobody has stopped them yet, and we did a pretty darn good job today.”
No. 1 VOLCANO VISTA 35, No. 8 MAYFIELD 28
Mayfield 0 14 0 14—28
Volcano Vista 14 7 14 0—35
First downs: VV 18; M 16. Rushes-yds: VV 25-138; M 55-281; Passing: VV 28-36-1, 264; M 5-11-0, 72. Total yards: VV 402; M 353. Punts/avg: VV 3-34.0; M 3-38.7. Fumbles-lost: VV 1-1; M 2-1. Penalties-yds: VV 9-83; M 6-45. Records: VV 11-0; M 7-4.
Scoring: VV, Diego Pavia 26 run (Christian Sanchez kick); VV, Isaac Chavez 5 run (Sanchez kick); M, Mathew Riley 4 run (Derek Saavedra kick); M, Riley 3 run (Saavedra kick); VV, Dylan Longoria 10 pass from Pavia (Sanchez kick); VV, Andres Castillo 95 fumble return (Sanchez kick); VV, Isaac Chavez 18 run (Sanchez kick); M, Casey Harrison 24 pass from Riley (Saavedra kick), M. Riley 6 run (Saavedra kick).