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Bisbee makes statement in 'Pick Game' win over Douglas

SIERRA VISTA — The Bisbee Pumas were on a mission to prove all their doubters wrong Friday night against rival Douglas Bulldogs. Bisbee earned the copper pick trophy in the 150th matchup since 1906 between the two schools with a 36-21 win over Douglas at Warren Ballpark, in a game that lasted more than five hours because of lightning delays.

With all the talk, some of it trash talk, leading up to the game, both verbally and on social media, the Pumas decided to let their play on the field show what this year’s squad is about.

“This win means a lot,” Bisbee running back Hunter Perry said after the game. “They doubted us. Everybody doubted us. They were talking and all that on the internet and we came out and proved them wrong.”

His teammate Dano Lopez, who had a touchdown and a timely interception in the game, agreed.

“We were ready for it,” he said. “We’re going to come out and prove everyone wrong this year.”

Bisbee was first to score as senior quarterback RJ Wright connected with Lopez for a touchdown. The extra point attempt was no good, however, and the Pumas led 6-0 four minutes into the game. Later in the first frame, Perry had a 12-yard run into the end zone to boost the Pumas’ lead to 12-0 with 2:30 left in the quarter. Bisbee held the 12-point advantage going into the second quarter.

Injuries plagued Douglas throughout the game. The Bulldogs had three key players helped off the field who did not return to the game in the first half. Douglas was already without highly touted tight end Christian Estrella, who was out because he received two unsportsmanlike penalties in Douglas’ first game last week. It’s an Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) rule that any player who receives two unsportsmanlike penalties in one game sit the following game.

Douglas quarterback Trey Rose connected on a 90-yard touchdown pass despite being hit by multiple Puma defenders for the Bulldogs’ first score of the night. They made the extra point to trim Bisbee’s lead to 12-7 with 9:29 left in the half.

Six minutes later the Pumas responded with another touchdown of their own. Perry made his way into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game with 3:43 left in the half. Bug Molina squeaked his way into the end zone to tack on the extra two points. Bisbee led 20-7 with time winding down in the half.

With 34 second left until the break, Rose connected with a receiver for a 30-yard touchdown to once again cut into Bisbee’s lead. Douglas made the point after attempt to make the score 20-14. That’s how the teams would end the first half.

Bisbee took back the momentum in the third as Perry scored his third touchdown of the game to increase the home team’s edge to 28-14. Perry finished the night with 210 yards rushing on 24 carries. With 9:45 left on the clock, at a little past 9 p.m., the referee suspended the game due to lightning in the area.

The Pumas’ head coach, Brian Vertrees, said this was the first time in his 12 years of coaching there has been a suspension in play during “The Pick” game.

“I was ready to wait five hours,” he said after the game. “(In that situation) you just have to refocus everybody ... We were still able to maintain our physicality.”

The game resumed after more than an hour and a half delay. The teams took the field at 10:34 p.m.

Play after the delay was sloppy by both teams, with multiple turnovers and dropped passes. The Pumas fumbled the football at the 1-yard line but the defense bailed out the offense by picking up a safety with 7:52 left in the game.

Douglas was able to find the end zone one last time with a 70-yard pass play by Rose with 3:11 remaining in the game.

Overall, Vertrees was pleased with his team’s performance, praising them for functioning as a unit.

“I can’t pick just one player who stepped up their game,” Vertrees said. “Everyone played a great game and did their job.”

Bisbee, now 1-0 on the fledgling season, travels to Globe on Friday for their first away game of 2019.

“I see a lot of good things moving forward with this group, as long as we do what we need to do,” Vertrees said.

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