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Pumas prove too tough for Tombstone

BISBEE — Tombstone’s football troubles continued Friday night as their lean roster was trimed even more and the Puma defense proved too tough for the Yellow Jackets.

Bisbee took care of business on homecoming night as they defeated Tombstone 44-14 at Warren Ballpark to improve to 6-1 overall this season.

The No. 8 Pumas were first to strike on a drive that lasted less than two minutes. A 25-yard kickoff return by David Ballesteros put the Pumas in good field position to start the game. Manny Amaya capped the run heavy drive with an 18-yard rushing touchdown. The made point after attempt by Camden Miller, who played his first game Friday, gave Bisbee the early 7-0 advantage.

Tombstone didn’t take too long to respond. A short kick by Bisbee and a block in the back call against the home team gave Tombstone the ball at Bisbee’s 35 yard line. Senior Jacob Bonilla had two timely first downs on the drive which he capped off with 1-yard touchdown. The point after attempt was made by Zeke Esparza to tie the game 7-7 with 5:54 to play in the first quarter. That’s all the offense Tombstone would muster in the first half.

Bisbee tacked on another touchdown of their own with time winding down in the opening quarter. Senior quarterback RJ Wright connected with Dano Lopez on a pass play that resulted in a 16-yard touchdown. Miller’s extra point attempt was good to give the Pumas a 14-7 lead, which they held through the end of the first frame.

Tombstone’s offense was stalled after their opening drive as the Bisbee defense had figured them out and were able to keep Bonilla contained. A short punt by the Yellow Jackets, roughly four minutes into the quarter, gave the Pumas the ball at their opponent’s 35 yard line. Bisbee took advantage of the short field with an 18-yard rushing touchdown for senior Hunter Perry and increased their lead to 21-7.

Tombstone’s woes continued in the latter stages of the first half. A series of high snaps wreaked havoc for quarterback Gustavo Morales. With the Yellow Jackets pinned deep within their own zone a high snap rolled through the end zone resulting in a safety and two more points for the Pumas. Less than a minute later Perry scored his second touchdown of the game on an 8-yard run. Bisbee took a 30-7 lead into the break.

“We wanted to start fast and test some guys on defense,” Bisbee head coach Brian Vertrees said. “We wanted to be able to give our young guys an opportunity to play and show what they can do.”

Right before the start of the intermission, Morales was injured on a run. He was helped off the field with what appeared to be an ankle injury. He did not return. Tombstone started the game with 14 players dressed — after Morales’ injury, and another one of their players not returning to the game, the team left town with 12 healthy players.

“They played hard all game,” Vertrees said of the athletes in white and gold. “They are well coached (and) they will get better as they get older.”

Bisbee’s offense and defense continued to roll in the second half. Perry scored his third touchdown of the game with 5:48 to play in the third quarter. The extra point gave Bisbee a 30-point advantage, 37-7, which is how the frame would end. Vertrees put his backups into the game, including freshman quarterback Diego Chavez, throughout the third period.

Bonilla broke Tombstone’s scoreless drought in the fourth quarter. The senior faked the handoff, after receiving the direct snap, fooling the Bisbee defence and rushed his way for a 36-yard score. Esparza’s point after attempt was good to make the score 37-14 with 7:19 to play. Bisbee responded less than two minutes later. Tyler Schasteen picked off Jacob Oliver and carried the ball to the Tombstone 3 yard line before being tackled. He made his way into the endzone on the next play. Miller made the extra point to seal the 44-14 victory for Bisbee.

Vertrees and his team knows a big test comes Friday as they travel to take on Benson. The winner of the game will most likely be the San Pedro Region winner.

“Having a great start is fine and dandy but it’s we end the season that really matters,” he said. “(Benson is) going to play fast and play physical so we have to match that.”

Bisbee is now 6-1 on the year while Tombstone falls to 1-6.

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