And down to Cruces the Cats go.
Top-ranked Mayfield held off a challenge from Eldorado, which led at halftime and early in the fourth quarter, and won 36-29 in overtime over the Eagles in a Class 5A quarterfinal playoff game on Saturday.
The win sets up a 1 p.m. Saturday semifinal between Clovis and Mayfield at the Field of Dreams in Las Cruces. It is the first time the teams have met since the 2007 title game, won by Mayfield 49-48 in an overtime thriller.
Trojans running back Brandon Belancourt tied the game on an 8-yard TD run with 1:37 left in regulation, and a late Eldorado field goal attempt was blocked. Austin Hooker’s 9-yard run made the difference in overtime, and Mayfield (10-1) got an interception to seal its victory.
Clovis (9-2) won its semifinal Friday night, 21-13 over Onate.
All of the top four seeds survived this weekend. In Class 5A’s other semifinal, La Cueva and Manzano will face off after identical 52-7 wins. Manzano beat Sandia Saturday, while the Bears routed Hobbs Friday.
No easy option: The Wildcats’ defense was tough when it needed to be in the red zone, where there was less territory to defend, stopping three Onate drives on downs inside the Clovis 20.
But Clovis players admitted they got a challenge from the misdirection offense of the Knights.
Was the ball going to Aaron Sandoval, or perhaps to Jason Sandoval? Or maybe to big bruiser Zachary Hernandez or the quick junior, Ty Muldrow? Onate kept the Wildcats guessing to the tune of 186 yards rushing.
“It was difficult because we had to sit on the line and wait for the quarterback to pitch,” junior safety Jordan Hill said. “We couldn’t attack the ball or anything.”
Best drive: This one’s a tie between the Cats’ final two drives.
After a pair of drives that went nowhere to open the second half, and a scant 14-13 lead to protect, the Wildcats started at their own 6 and never saw a first down on a 10-play drive that ate up nearly six minutes of clock.
It started with Juan Rivas’ 8-yard run with 4:08 left in the third quarter, hit midfield when Blake Wiley caught an out from Brewer-Hill and went up the middle for more yards, and ended when Richie Chavez caught a fade from Brewer-Hill and stepped just inside the pylons with 10:41 to go.
The other drive, with the Wildcats now leading 21-13, was the game’s last. They went to third down once, but Quran Wiggins broke off a run for 17 yards, and he and Brewer-Hill each got another first down on runs to hold off a Knight squad without a timeout.
“I knew we had to just keep getting first downs,” Brewer-Hill said.
Worst drive: The Knights gave Clovis field position after a stalled third-quarter drive, but the Wildcats didn’t do much with it from their own 44. Wiggins had two runs for 3 yards, the latter a lost fumble, and the Wildcats added to their troubles with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the scramble following the play.
Best defensive series: For all of their troubles in the red zone, the Knights were pretty efficient out of it, getting first downs on seven of their eight drives.
The one three-and-out came early in the third quarter. The Cats stuffed quarterback Brandon Roybal for a 3-yard loss on second down, and Armando Lopez knocked down one of two incomplete passes on the other two plays.
Worst defensive series: The Knights got one offensive touchdown, with the two-minute drive getting help from a big play.
Roybal found Jason Sandoval for a sideline pass. But the credit for the 63-yard play went to his brother, Aaron Sandoval, when the former pitched to the latter for an extra 5 yards at the end of the play.
Aaron Sandoval finished it off with a 5-yard run with eight seconds left in the half.