The light isn’t totally out, but senior tailback Caiden Hall’s last-ditch effort to score at the Bisbee goal line Friday night may have been a last gasp for the Willcox Cowboy playoff hopes.
“It means that our playoff hopes are a lot thinner,” head coach Alonzo Highsmith said. “We may need to win out or get some help from other teams.”
Willcox (2-4) still has four games left on the schedule and might qualify for state by winning three of four for a 5-5 record, as they did two years ago. They earned a No. 14 ranking that year as five teams qualified for the top-16 from their section. Two teams are ahead of the currently No. 21-ranked Cowboys in their smaller section this season.
Bisbee (5-1, No. 7) is one of those after they battled back and forth with the Cowboys on Friday to get a big win for their program.
“They ran the ball well as their offensive line had big guys and leaned on us quite a bit,” Highsmith said. “They also had a receiver who caught two long touchdowns.”
That helped the visiting Pumas to an early 8-0 lead before Hall countered with a 10-yard run at 5:07 of the first period to make it 8-7. Junior Ote Allsup gave Willcox their only lead with a 50-yard punt return to make it 13-8 at 2:15 of the first period.
Bisbee countered with the next two touchdowns and took a 20-13 lead into the half-time lockerroom.
“I think we played well, well enough to win,” the coach said. “We just didn’t execute in the crucial moments. If it was third and long, we let them convert. We just didn’t get them off the field.”
It was 26-13 when Allsup scored on a 5-yard run to make it 26-20 near the end of the third. The Cowboys gave up a safety to fall behind 28-21 before their late rally almost forced a tie.
“We got to the one and fumbled in the end zone as Caiden tried to stretch to the line with the clock running down,” Highsmith said. But there was no controversy in the end, he said. “It was a well-played game and could have went either way.”
Ayden Fuentes was a big contributor on defense with two pass interceptions that stopped Bisbee drives at the Willcox goal line.
“I’m surprised we’re 2-4,” the coach said. “I don’t feel like we’ve lost any games. I feel like we’ve given away those games. Now, in my eyes, we have to win out to make it. We’ll know a lot more before our final game against Benson.”
First, they’ll travel to Tucson on Friday to face Santa Rita (3-3), who have a better record but a weaker over-all schedule so far.
“We just have to play our game and not make mistakes. Mistakes kill us every week,” Highsmith lamented.