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Buffs return to 8-man finals with 50-14 win

MELROSE – It's not like Melrose expected to run roughshod over Fort Sumner on Friday night, as the Buffaloes had done two weeks earlier in District 6-1A play.

In fact, Friday's 8-man semifinal matchup was far more competitive for far longer. In the end, though, the top-ranked Buffaloes simply had too much firepower and pulled away to a 50-14 win over the Foxes.

Now the Buffs (11-1) are getting set to meet another district rival in Saturday's 1 p.m. title tilt at Melrose in surprising No. 7 seed Clayton (7-5), which in its second year in 8-man finished fourth in the district but has dispatched two higher seeds on the road, including third-seeded Mesilla Valley 52-36 on Friday at Las Cruces.

Melrose, seeking its first title 2019, cruised past the Yellowjackets 54-0 in district play.

"Now they (Clayton's coaches) have got their kids believing a little bit," Melrose coach Drew Hatley said.

Odom echoed those sentiments.

"We just can't overlook them," he said of the Yellowjackets. "We just want to keep getting better. The job's not done yet."

He said the team played with a bit of an edge this year after being ousted last season by the Foxes.

"Losing to Fort last year in the semifinals was tough," Odom said. "We came back this year with a chip on our shoulders."

Odom caught six passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns and carried 17 times for 124 yards and three tallies. He scored the game's first points on a fourth-and-12, 30-yard pass from junior quarterback Josiah Roybal, later added a 51-yard TD reception and tallies on runs of 10, 12 and 2 yards.

"Jaxon's special," Hatley said. "He's a great kid, a great player and a great teammate. He's truly the whole package."

The Buffs posted a 464-341 margin in total offense. Roybal was 16-of-25 for 268 yards, and also scored twice himself on runs of 1 yard and 10 yards.

Odom said he had a couple of four-touchdown games last season as a freshman, but this was his first time to get five. He said the Foxes made things a bit tougher than in the first meeting, a 50-0 win in the regular-season finale.

"Tonight was different, and we knew it would be," Odom said. "We knew we had to prepare (well), but the team and the coaches get all the credit."

Fort Sumner (6-3) took the opening kickoff and turned the ball over on downs in Foxes territory. Melrose covered the distance in eight plays, capped by the first Roybal-to-Odom TD.

Later in the period, the Foxes pulled to 8-6 when junior running back Jayden Ward went in from a yard out. The teams traded scores throughout the half, but Melrose made a couple of defensive stops and led 20-14 at the intermission.

The Buffs put together two lengthy scoring drives in the third quarter. Meantime, their defense pitched a shutout over the final two cantos, limiting the Foxes to 123 total yards.

"The first half was a good half, mistake-free," Hatley said. "We felt good at halftime because we knew we'd get possession (to start) the second half."

Senior quarterback Joaquin Segura ran for 56 yards and a touchdown and completed 19-of-32 through the air for 258 yards for Fort Sumner. Senior Junior Vigil caught six passes for 74 yards while freshman Aaron Torres had five receptions for 111.

In other action on Friday night:

Roy/Mosquero 27, Grady 20 – At Roy, Grady had the unbeaten Longhorns (11-0) on the ropes for much of the contest, but second-seeded Roy/Mosquero got a 4-yard touchdown run from junior quarterback Ayden Clavel with one second left to break a 20-20 tie in the 6-man playoff semifinals.

Roy/Mosquero snapped the Bronchos' six-game winning streak and advances to Saturday's 1 p.m. championship at Roswell against top-seeded Gateway Christian (10-0), which defeated No. 5 Mountainair 66-38 on Friday night, also in Roswell.

Junior Deakin Ragland's 10-yard run and senior Zane Rush's 4-yard scoring pass to freshman Zander Ciancio, the latter set up by Ragland's fumble recovery on the Longhorns' second play from scrimmage, and a 2PAT kick by senior Sergio Perez had the Bronchos (8-3) in front 14-0 after one quarter.

The Longhorns countered with a 65-yard TD pass from Clavel to freshman Brycen Barnes and a 2PAT kick to close to 14-8 at halftime, then tied it in the third stanza on Barne' 11-yard touchdown run.

A Clavel-to-Jackson Fudge 8-yard scoring toss gave Roy/Mosquero the lead early in the fourth put the Longhorns back in front. Grady then retied it on a 10-yard pass from Rush to Ciancio.

In Texas area regular-season finales on Friday night, Panhandle (8-2, 3-1 District 1-2A Division I) clinched second place in the district behind Stratford with a 62-40 victory at Farwell (7-3, 3-2); Muleshoe (8-2, 2-2 District 2-3A Division I) posted a 53-45 victory at Dalhart (7-3, 2-2), and Lockney (7-2, 4-1 District 3-2A Division I) earned a 50-36 win over Bovina (2-8, 1-4) at Lockney.

More information on these games is planned for Wednesday's paper.

 
 
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