THATCHER — The Thatcher Eagles took over in the second half with an effective run attack, and finished off the visiting Bisbee Pumas with a surprise pass attack to easily advance in the 2A Playoffs, 48-7, on Friday night at John Mickelson Field on the campus of Eastern Arizona College.
The Pumas put up a good fight in the first half but still found themselves down, 14-0, after Thatcher scored on its first two possessions.
The Eagles’ Michael McBride got the first score on an eight-yard run up the gut of the Bisbee defense, which would see this play all night long.
Slade Shupe got Thatcher’s second touchdown by following his blockers around the left side to walk into the endzone from 17 yards out.
Bisbee’s only scoring drive started in the first quarter and finished in the second.
Puma’s quarterback RJ Wright tossed up a dazzling pass on the 38-yard line to his go-to guy, running back Dano Lopez, for 33 yards down to the five-yard line. That set up a three-yard flip pass over the line to the back of the end zone from Wright to D’Marco Chavez, who reeled it in to make it 14-7.
Thatcher was called for a number of penalties, and quarterback Mark Wren tried to throw away the ball at the sidelines near the end to only have the Pumas’ Lopez, in arguably the most spectacular play-of-the-night, went fully extended and pulled off a diving fingertip catch for the interception.
However, the Bisbee offense was met by a hornets’ nest of Eagles defenders who quickly shut the Pumas down.
With good field position, Thatcher cobbled together a late first half drive, culminating in Brenton Dodge rumbling right up the middle for the score. Ammon Curtis kicked his third extra point to make it 21-7 at the half.
It would be all Thatcher in the second half despite a spirited fight from the Pumas.
Thatcher came out in the third quarter with its Flying V formation and ran the ball right at the heart of the Bisbee defense. With 2:30 left in the third quarter, Thatcher’s Gavin Bryce punched it in from four-yards out to put the game away and go up 28-7.
Dodge scored again from 28-yards out and Wren fired a bullet to Brayden Oliver who easily pulled it in and scored the last touchdown of the night.
No. 7 Thatcher advances to the quarterfinals, where the Eagles will face No. 2 Trivium Prep in Goodyear on Friday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m.
Trivium Prep advanced by defeating No. 15 Morenci, 35-28, in the first round Friday.