By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
LAS CRUCES — Just when it looked like the Clovis High Wildcats had taken control, Mayfield turned the tables.
The top-ranked Trojans (14-0) answered the Cats’ 72-yard go-ahead scoring drive following the second-half kickoff with a 65-yard touchdown march of their own and went on to a 17-7 victory in the Class 5A state championship game at Field of Dreams.
Senior quarterback David Bustillos threw two second-half TD passes as Mayfield handed the second-ranked Cats (12-2) their only losses this season around a 12-game winning streak.
“This was our (seniors’) last game,” said Bustillos, who went 10-for-18 for 190 yards passing. “We played for each other out there, and we were going to do whatever it took to win.”
The loss was going to be tough for whichever coach came out on the short end — Clovis’ Eric Roanhaus or Mayfield’s 72-year-old general, Jim Bradley, who may be contemplating retirement.
“I hate to see these kids hurting,” Roanhaus said. “It’ll hurt more tomorrow, but by this time next week it won’t hurt as bad.”
Mayfield lost in the 5A finals for three consecutive years, starting with a 17-10 loss to the Cats in 2001. Then the Trojans were knocked out of the playoffs by Clovis in the first round last season.
“Finishing second is no fun,” said Roanhaus, whose team has now done it two years in a row. “It’s great to be here (finals), but like coach Bradley said this week, he’d rather have another knee operation than come in second.
“They (Trojans) played hard, and they deserved to win.”
Defense dominated in a crisply played first half. Mayfield scored early on a 22-yard field goal by Chris Hutchinson after a Clovis fumble.
The only other serious scoring threat before halftime came late in the second quarter, when a 50-yard pass from Devin Sweet to tight end Michael Lewis put the Cats at the Mayfield 27. But on fourth-and-2, the Trojans stacked up running back Brian Mead short of the first down.
Both teams then went to work when play resumed.
“We came out hard in the second half and thought we were going to get them,” senior offensive tackle Kendall Richards said.
Senior fullback Tanner Fickling took an option pitch from Sweet in from 10 yards out to finish off Clovis’ 10-play drive, but Mayfield responded with an 11-play march capped by Bustillos’ 12-yard slant pass to Hutchinson for a 10-7 lead.
“They had 1-on-1 (coverage) with Chris,” Bustillos said. “The way they were set up I knew what (route) he was running.”
Bustillos, who stands just 5-8 and weighs 160 pounds, then provided the clinching score early in the fourth quarter, two plays after Clovis punter Robert North had pinned the Trojans at their 8.
Bustillos kept the ball around the right side for 15 yards on first down before throwing into the left flat to running back Oran Gonzales, who broke a Clovis tackle short of midfield and breezed into the end zone on a 77-yard play.
“Mayfield’s always had short quarterbacks,” Bustillos said of his relative lack of size. “That didn’t make any difference. I just go out and get my job done.
“This (win) makes up for the last four years.”
Bradley said Mayfield tried to establish a running game in the second half, although that met with only modest success.
“We felt we had to run the ball more,” he said. “We didn’t do that well, but we did what we had to do.”
Trailing by 10 points with five minutes left, Roanhaus did not use any timeouts as the Cats methodically marched downfield before punting the ball away with just over a minute left.
Trying to run out the clock, Bustillos was stripped of the ball on second down and Clovis nose guard Randy Cerda recovered at the Mayfield 21 with 27 seconds left. But Sweet’s second-down pass into the end zone was intercepted by Chris Hernandez, and Bustillos took a knee on the next play to end it.
“Coach Roanhaus is a class act,” Bradley said of his longtime friend and rival. “He didn’t call timeouts because he knew it wouldn’t make any difference. And then what do we do but go fumble the ball.”
Bradley, who owns the state-record for high school coaching wins with 310, said he’s not ready to talk about whether or not he’ll be back.
“I’m not going to say anything until I sit down and talk it over with my family,” he said.