FORT SUMNER — The big blue trophy is back in Fort Sumner.
The Foxes captured their 10th Class 1A state football title since 1995 and fifth in the last six years Saturday, beating defending state champion Hagerman 17-12.
Foxes junior middle linebacker Micah Lyssy provided the pass rush that caused Hagerman senior quarterback Isaac Bejarano to miss on his last pass of the game.
“We’ve been through a lot together, we’re family,” Lyssy said. “We’ve been through a lot and we’ve just pushed through it all.”
Fort Sumner coach Matt Moyer said he and his team knew going into the game that controlling the Bobcat offense and not letting them get an early lead was key.
“I think our defense played awesome and shut them down,” Moyer said. “That’s a high-scoring offense and we held them to two scores.”
The Foxes’ defense came up big in a bend-but-don’t-break effort that featured a defensive score off a fumble return by Lyssy for the game’s first score and then a stand that denied Hagerman the conversion after a fourth-quarter touchdown run by Bobcats senior Ryan Gomez made it 14-12 with 4:28 to play.
In something of a rugby scrum near midfield on the ensuing onside kick, a Bobcat emerged from the pile with the apparent recovery, but the referees huddled and awarded Fort Sumner the ball at its own 48.
Senior quarterback Kolter West then engineered a nine-play, 41-yard drive that included an 18-yard reception by senior Caleb West and a 19-yard run by Joshua Gauna. It was the longest drive of the day for Fort Sumner, which finished with just 162 total yards, but it ran the clock down to 28 seconds before Kolter West booted a 27-yard field goal.
“I was just happy we got the first and that we could stay on offense,” said Caleb West of his catch, admitting his team’s defense was tired. “It was the toughest game of the year for us. Defensively we made some huge stands and turnovers were a big key.
Hagerman senior quarterback Issac Bejaranjo connected with Gomez for 14 yards on his first play from scrimmage after the field goal, but Fort Sumner’s pass rush kept the pressure up and his final two attempts went incomplete.
Bejaranjo struggled with the Foxes’ pressure all day and wound up throwing three interceptions, two by Reed Kenyon and one by Kolter West.
Hagerman coach Randy Montoya complimented Fort Sumner. He said the turnovers were the key in his team’s loss.
“It just wasn’t meant to be,” Montoya said. “If you have that many turnovers against a team like that, you can’t expect to win. Our hats are off to Fort Sumner. They played a great game.”
For his part, Moyer resorted to trickery for one of the Fort Sumner scores by putting a flea-flicker pass into the mix that he hoped would catch Hagerman off-guard. It did, and Kolter West’s pass to Daniel Gauna went for 55 yards and the go-ahead touchdown with 9:35 left in the third period.