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Benson added three more rushing touchdowns in the second half

Posted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 1:57 am
by elvafeng
Strength of schedule SOS will vault Willcox into the 2A state tournament despite a season ending 43 22 loss to rival Benson on Friday.

“We got in. I’m surprised in a way because, in my mind, it was win and go, or lose and go home,” head coach Alonzo Highsmith said.

The 14th seeded Willcox Cowboys 5 5 will head to No. 3 seed Thatcher 9 1 on Friday night for the first round of the 16 team playoffs and a rematch of the season opener dominated by the Eagles, 52 6.


“I’m excited; I’m glad to get these playoffs,” Highsmith said. “It’s another week to prepare, another game for these seniors to play. I’m ready for the rematch.”

Highsmith and his players were not necessarily expecting to qualify for the tournament after taking a No. 14 ranking to Benson 3 6 and losing. Only the top 15, plus automatic qualifier No. 20 Kingman Academy, the Central Region titlist https://www.cowboysdaclub.com/leon-mcfadden-jersey-c-17.html, can enter the postseason by 2A rules.

Cowboys leadership assumed they would drop out of the top 15 after the loss , but their strong rating 1.7276 built on a tough schedule that included four Top 10 teams — Thatcher, Santa Cruz, Morenci and Arizona Lutheran — and two others in the top 20, helped give the Cowboys a margin of error to account for the final loss and a rating that dropped to just 0.4725. Bisbee was next at 0.1725 to finish at No. 15 after beating lowly Tombstone.

“I think we’re in an OK spirit about finishing 5 5,” Highsmith said. “I wanted our seniors to hold their heads up high anyway, because they weren’t supposed to have five wins after three consecutive 2 8 records .”

The regular season final loss to the Benson Bobcats was somewhat of a surprise after the Cowboys dominated 16 minutes of play in the first half to overcome an early 6 0 deficit and take a 14 6 lead with six minutes to go. The Cowboys had 120 total yards to 48 for the Bobcats, with junior quarterback Christian Brown running for one touchdown and passing to senior Josh Rios for another.

But there were cracks in the Cowboys’ armor that started to show early in the second period, when Benson had two long runs for touchdowns that were each called back by holding penalties. The Bobcats eventually got it right, converting a 50 yard pass in the final minute of the first half and following with a short touchdown run by senior fullback Seth Jackson to tie the game at 14 14.

Benson’s sophomore quarterback Talon Palmer was just two for nine passing during the first half https://www.cowboysdaclub.com/nolan-carroll-jersey-c-18.html, sandwiching two long passes, totaling 78 yards, around six consecutive incompletions.

He caught fire in the second half to go five for five for 72 yards.

Meanwhile Brian Brown Jersey, Willcox’s Brown struggled with his passing game, going one for seven with an interception in the second half after a five for seven start in the first half.

Junior tailback Tanner DeBaun rushed for 128 yards on 22 carries but was held to 45 of those yards in the second half.

The game turned on the opening kickoff of the second half as freshman Oate Allsup was jarred loose of the ball on the return at the 31 yard line. The Bobcats recovered the ball and quickly scored. Benson added three more rushing touchdowns in the second half, while the Willcox offense went stale until a late 21 yard touchdown run by senior Elijah Sheppard.

“Benson had nothing to play for but a trophy,” Highsmith said of the Seney Lohman hardware, now the Bobcats’ treasure for a sixth consecutive year. “We were playing for the playoffs. The trophy isn’t that big. The playoffs are what’s big. But that trophy was their playoffs, so they played to a higher level. They had more of a sense of urgency when it mattered.”

Highsmith said he was disappointed with his own squad’s lack of urgency.

“They saw what happens when a team wants it more than you,” he said.

Willcox’s opportunity to bounce back https://www.cowboysdaclub.com/xavier-woods-jersey-c-19.html in the playoffs will come on a Friday night, instead of the regularly scheduled Saturday date for the rest of the teams in the tournament, because Thatcher uses a college stadium that will be busy Saturday with an Eastern Arizona College game.

“I think they’ll want it more at Thatcher than they wanted the Benson game,” Highsmith said. “I’m looking to see how bad we want it, even on my part and the coach’s part. How aggressive can we get, because we’re going to need it this game.”