ARTESIA – Sometimes the momentum changes discreetly during the natural ebb and flow of a game.
Other times, however, you can identify the exact second he gave up one sideline in favor of the other.
The latter was the case on Saturday in a class 5A semi-final at the Bulldog Bowl in Artesia.
With the Bulldogs the fourth-seeded Bulldogs scoring to take a 21-14 lead over Farmington, the first-seeded with just over a minute to go in the first half, the Scorpions led, hoping to head to the changing rooms tied or with their deficit reduced to four by a basket.
But second and 10th on Artesia’s 25-yard line with four seconds on the clock, Farmington senior quarterback Brandon Furbee stepped back for one final pass and was encountered as he pitched the lineman. by Artesia Rylee Jarratt. The wobbly ball was snatched mid-air by safety Phillip Finley-Rascon, who sent it back 95 yards for pick six as time ticked off in the second quarter.
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And with that, it seemed like the time was up for the Scorpions’ undefeated season as well.
Farmington (11-1) never regained his rhythm in the match, as three more interceptions from Furbee, a turnaround on downs and a safety constituted their offensive exit in the second half.
The ‘Dogs, meanwhile, scored touchdowns on each of their first four halftime records, putting the game out of reach en route to a 57-14 win and a trip to the 5A title game. Saturday, when they seek their 31st state championship against No.2 Los Lunas in Los Lunas.
“I think the most important thing we talked about this week was that we needed to limit our mistakes and turnovers and force them to make mistakes,” Bulldogs first year head coach Jeremy Maupin said after the match. “And we did. Our defense just came out and hit them hard.”
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The Scorpions were averaging 47 points per game to come, and their 14-point performance on Saturday was a testament to the Bulldogs’ early adjustments to the defense that all but wiped out Farmington’s dangerous passing offense.
Artesia (9-3), meanwhile, saw senior quarterback Nathan Taylor cover 380 aerial yards, completing 24 of his 38 attempts, with six of those catches resulting in touchdowns.
That’s a far cry from the defensive performance Farmington has put forward much of this season, where they’ve allowed an average of five points per game this season. Before Saturday, the most points granted by Farmington all season was 17, scored by Durango on September 17.
After forcing a Farmington punt to start Saturday’s semifinal, the Bulldogs’ offense got off to a quick start, needing just three plays to reach the end zone on a 53-yard pass. from Taylor to Julian Rodriguez three minutes later.
The Scorpions had an immediate response, however, as Furbee showed his own arm with a 70-yard touchdown to Ethan Thomas just two games later. And after Broden Cahoon returned an Artesia punt at the Bulldog’s 20-yard line, the Scorpions were able to take an early 14-7 lead on an eight-yard pass from Furbee to Julian Gomez.
From there, the two infractions flouted, trading punters and turnovers until, with 4:51 left in the half, Taylor found Farmington 20’s Kody Watson to tie the game. A Scorpion turnover on lows to their own 40 set the Bulldogs’ next score – a one-yard run from Payton Deans – and Artesia headed for the locker room in the lead 27-14 after the return from ‘Finley-Rascon interception.
The 22-yard TD throw from the Taylor Bulldogs to Zaden Lopez to start the third quarter seemed to shock Farmington even more, and a Deans pick of Furbee near the Scorpions’ red zone resulted in a 19-yard pass from Taylor to Peyton Greathouse who made it 41-14 Artesia with seven minutes left in the third.
The Bulldogs increased their lead to 48-14 with 19 seconds left in the quarter on an eight-yard Taylor-Rodriguez connection, and the wheels just seemed to come off for the Scorpions.
Two more interceptions followed early in the final 12 minutes, with the Bulldogs scoring their last touchdown of the day on a 33-yard pass from Taylor to Watson in between.
This started the Mercy Rule clock by 35 points with 11:42 remaining, and following a 70-yard punt by Deans that forced Farmington from his own three-yard line. , sophomore quarterback Trel Griego lost grip on the snap in the back end of the end zone, resulting in a safety that put the final score at 57-14.
The Bulldogs’ meeting with the Tigers next week will be a kind of weird homecoming for Maupin, who returned to his alma mater this year after five years at the helm of the Los Lunas program.
“I think I know them pretty well which is good, but they play really good football,” said the coach. “But our guys are just excited to be back in this game. There is so much tradition here, and they’re happy to be a part of it again.”
This article originally appeared on Farmington Daily Times: Farmington High season ends on a bitter note in semi-final loss to Artesia