ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Bears turn the ball over four times in 45-7 loss to three-time defending state champions
By Will Webber
Journal Staff Writer
LAS CRUCES — In like a bear, out like a cubbie.
La Cueva’s football team had its season come to an end Friday night in an ugly 45-7 loss to Mayfield in the Class 5A quarterfinals at the Field of Dreams.
The Bears (8-4) committed a pair of costly turnovers in the first half, spotted the Trojans a commanding early lead and never threatened the entire night.
When La Cueva’s offense wasn’t busy spinning its wheels and its players weren’t getting in trouble for unsportsmanlike calls, the Bears’ defense was coming up empty in is search for a way to stop Mayfield’s Michael Hallock, Jacob Ceniceros & Co.
A wide receiver, Hallock caught a pair of first-half touchdown passes over La Cueva safety Broc Galbreth. They helped the Trojans open a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Ceniceros rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns. His highlight moment came in the second half when Mayfield quarterback Austin Hooker dropped back to pass, then handed the ball a la Statue of Liberty to the 5-foot-6, 145-pound senior. Thirty-six yards later, Ceniceros was in the end zone and La Cueva’s defense was wondering where the ball went.
The hosts led by 17 points at halftime and were ahead 31-7 less than two minutes into the second half when La Cueva quarterback Jordan Wade was drilled on a blitz up the middle and tossed the first of his two interceptions. The pick was returned to the Bears’ 2 and Mayfield punched it in two plays latger.
The Trojans ended the game with the running clock via the mercy rule.
In short, just another night at the office for 5A’s most dominant team this decade. Mayfield is now two wins shy of a fourth straight state championship.
The win sends the Trojans (9-2) into next weekend’s semifinals against cross-town rival Las Cruces (11-0). The Bulldawgs held off Manzano in a game played just a few miles away at NMSU.
Mayfield officials confirmed the semifinal contest will be played a week from today at Aggie Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Nov. 28.
The teams met just two weeks ago at NMSU. Mayfield lost 22-21 thanks, in no small part, to a special teams penalty in the game’s final minute. Hallock said it took the Trojans some soul searching to get over it.
“We starting putting that one behind us in that first film session that (morning after the game),” Hallock said. “We became more of a team, we became more focused than we ever have been.”
Hallock’s first touchdown catch came one play after La Cueva’s Ronnie Daniels ended his team’s initial drive by fumbling the ball away. Hallock beat Galbreth for a 29-yard reception to make it 7-0.
His second scoring catch came midway through the second quarter when Hooker threaded the ball through Galbreth’s hands in the back of the end zone from 10 yards out to make it 14-0. Galbreth appeared to have defended the pass perfectly. Hooker’s pass was just that good.
“All Austin does for us is play quarterback, whether it’s in practice with the first team or on the scout team,” said Trojans coach Michael Bradley. “He gets better with every throw he makes.”
Hooker passed for 111 yards and the two scores, but more importantly he engineered four scoring drives for 24 points following La Cueva turnovers.
The Trojan defense picked off Wade twice in the second half and held Daniels to just 23 yards on six carries. Daniels had 68 yards rushing in all and had four catches for 26 yards.
Wade was just 10-for-25 for 68 yards. He also fumbled twice, recovering his own drop once and Bears running back Colton Moore scooping up the other.
As the game wore on, the Bears’ frustration was readily apparent. Players from both teams jawed with one another, particularly during the postgame handshake. Bradley’s father, former Trojans coach Jim Bradley, had to be restrained from a verbal confrontation with a member of La Cueva’s support staff as the teams left the field.
Michael Bradley spoke candidly about the lack of sportsmanship afterward, saying he just wanted to pull his key players off the field before a fight broke out.
“I just wanted my players off the field,” he said.
And as for the rematch with Las Cruces? Hallock said it’s time to forget about La Cueva and focus on the bigger picture.
“They took our pride away from us and it’s time to get it back,” Hallock said. “We’re determined to come out and play a better game next time.”
MAYFIELD 45, LA CUEVA 7
Friday — Field of Dreams
First downs: LC 14; M 15. Rushing-yds.: LC 33-117; M 37-177. Passing: LC 10-25-2–68; M 8-15-0–153. Total offense: LC 185; M 330. Punts-avg.: 3-36.7; M 3-24.3. Penalties-yds.: LC 6-62; M 2-25. Fumbles-lost: LC 4-2; M 0-0.
La Cueva 0-7-0-0–7
Scoring summary: M, Michael Hallock 29 pass from Austin Hooker (Brock Baca kick), 7:29; M, Hallock 10 pass from Hooker (Baca kick), 8:10; LC, Gus Bowe 3 run (Brian Herrera kick), 3:36; M, Jacob Ceniceros 4 run (Baca kick), 1:20; M, Baca 35 FG, 0:00; M, Darren Cedillo 1 run (Baca kick), 10:13; M, Ceniceros 36 run (Baca kick), 2:49; M, Brandon Bentancourt 13 run (Baca kick), 1:59. Records: M 9-2; LC 8-4. Up next: Mayfield vs. Las Cruces Nov. 28 in 5A semifinals.