ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Trojans Top Bears When It Matters Most – In 5A Football Semifinal
LAS CRUCES – The Mayfield Trojans exacted the perfect revenge Friday night.
And the Ronnie Daniels era at La Cueva is over.
Ricky Milks and Brandon Betancourt each rushed for more than 100 yards and combined for all three touchdowns, and the Trojans survived a 52-carry, 357-yard performance by Daniels as No. 6 Mayfield upset the second-seeded Bears 21-17 in a Class 5A football semifinal at the Field of Dreams.
Mayfield (9-4) will play No. 1 Manzano or No. 4 Las Cruces in next week’s championship game. It will be the eighth title-game appearance in 10 years for the Trojans.
“They weren’t gonna be denied tonight,” Trojans coach Michael Bradley said. “I thought we had a chance of winning a state championship with this team, but with all our injuries and problems we had at the beginning of the year, I didn’t know if we were gonna make it.”
The go-ahead – and eventual game-winning – score came from Betancourt, on a 3-yard touchdown run with 7:41 remaining.
La Cueva (10-2) had beaten Mayfield 45-12 earlier this season on the same field. The Bears also handled the Trojans 31-14 in last year’s state championship game.
“That first game,” Trojans’ defensive tackle Matt Ramondo said, “we came out timid. Everyone had to face their fears this game. They played a hell of a game, but in the end, it was us. It’s a team game, not one person.”
That comment was targeted at Daniels, who was on the field for almost every play and clearly was exhausted at the end. Daniels did not go through the line and shake hands after the game. He walked off the field to some hearty boos from the Mayfield crowd.
The Texas Tech-bound La Cueva tailback had the ball for more than 75 percent of the Bears’ snaps, and his 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter opened the game’s scoring.
But unlike that first meeting in October, there were no huge momentum-swinging runs for Daniels.
“You can’t be scared of one guy,” said Milks, a 5-5 junior who rushed for 159 yards and two TDs. “You have go out and hit him in the mouth and never give up. We were hungry and driven.”
Aside from that, there were some noticeable changes from that lopsided result eight weeks ago.
First, the Bears turned the ball over three times – twice on fumbles by Daniels, the last with 5:10 remaining and La Cueva driving for what would have been the go-ahead score. Bobby Chavez forced the fumble; Isaac Ramirez, who was seeing his first varsity action of the year, recovered.
Second, Bears running back/linebacker Stan Sedberry dropped to the grass with a hip injury – without being hit – late in the first half. He did not return.
Mayfield rushed for 51 yards in the first half with Sedberry in the game. The Trojans rushed for 230 yards in the second half and frequently targeted the left side where Sedberry had been patrolling.
“No doubt about that,” Bradley said. “Once we got something, any good coach will keep it going.”
La Cueva coach Fred Romero waved off a Journal reporter when approached for a postgame comment.
Mayfield took the opening kickoff of the second half 80 yards in 14 plays. Milks scored from the Bears’ 1 with 5:03 left in the quarter to tie it at 7-7.
The Bears turned a 49-yard kickoff return by Daniels into a 28-yard Eric Stabile field goal on the following possession to lead 10-7. But on Mayfield’s next play, Milks burst through the left side and raced untouched 85 yards as the Trojans moved in front 14-10.
“I was cramping in both legs,” Milks said.
Zach Nelson’s 1-yard TD on a quarterback sneak – set up by a 19-yard run by Daniels on a fake punt moments earlier – put the Bears up 17-14 with 8:38 to go. But Mayfield went 80 yards on three plays to retake the lead. Betancourt, who finished with 114 yards, dashed 74 yards over the left side, and scored on a 3-yard run two plays later.