The hype, the atmosphere and the tradition was all in the 48th meeting between the Mayfield Trojans and the Las Cruces Bulldogs. Over 18,000 fans packed Aggie Memorial Stadium to witness the Bulldogs defeat the Trojans 36-13.
The ninth best high school football rivalry in the country was set to determine the 3-5A District Championship. Las Cruces came in as the number two ranked team in the state of New Mexico, only having lost one game this season. Mayfield came in as the tenth ranked team but they had beaten the Bulldogs the year before to have that bit of confidence. Both teams were undefeated in district play.
Before the opening kickoff, you could feel the intensity that this game has known to become. Fans from each side were already jostling with each other, chanting to see who was louder, standing up the whole time and jumping up and down to create what Friday night lights is truly, really all about.
High adrenaline set in on the players at first as each quarterback overthrew catch-able balls to start their drives. Eventually the running game helped ease the game with Las Cruces using it to full advantage, rushing for over 300 yards on offense. “We got some big hogs up front,” said Bulldogs head coach, Jim Miller. Las Cruces used a mixture of halfback tosses and option plays, “It tires people out, we keep doing it and doing it.”
Mayfield drew first blood as penalties by Las Cruces gave the Trojans an easy drive that set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Elijah Perez. The Bulldogs were having trouble moving the ball but once the first turnover occurred by Mayfield, quarterback Jonathon Joy found Same Denmark to give Las Cruces a 9-7 lead.
They would then return the favor as Las Cruces threw an interception and Mayfield scored on the ensuing possession to get back the lead at 13-9. The Bulldogs were still struggling to try and move the ball so on fourth down coach Miller threw in a trick play as running back JJ Granados took a toss and loaded up his arm to pass it to a wide open Kamryn Dixon for a momentous first down.
That drive would end on a Joy roll out touchdown pass to Michael Calzada to give Las Cruces a lead at halftime, 16-13. They would never surrender the lead again.
On Las Cruces' first drive in the second half the passing game broke loose as Joy hit Jalen Bishop for a 58-yard touchdown pass that opened the flood gates for the Bulldogs. Granados was the main man as he rushed for 160 yards and got into the endzone twice, including a 32-yard touchdown run that sent Trojan fans out the stadium.
Las Cruces ended up scoring 27 unanswered points. “When they started scoring more points it was hard to keep up with them.” Trojans head coach Michael Bradley said. Mayfield was shutout in the second half as their game-plan got stifled. “We didn't execute very well in the second half, we had opportunities but we needed to stay with them.”
Bradley doesn't think this will be a downside heading into the playoffs considering playing a state title caliber team will only make them better.
The Bulldogs have now won five out of their last 6 meeting against Mayfield. They had a four game winning streak from 2008-2010 until it was broken last year. Coach Miller wasn't going to let this one slip away, “Last year we let one get away, we didn't let one get away this season.”
Game Notes: With Las Cruces winning on Friday, the series matchup is now 26-21-1 in favor of Mayfield.
Mayfield ends their four game winning streak in which they were averaging 45 points a game.
Of the 21 losses that Mayfield has had against Las Cruces, they have only averaged 12 .7 points a game. They were held to 13 points on Friday.
Mayfield becomes the 5th seed in the playoffs and will face 12th seed Manzano. Las Cruces gets the 2nd seed and will have a first round bye week. They will await the winner of Clovis vs Atrisco Heritage Academy.