Texico’s Edgardo Meza (26) is tackled low by Eunice’s Mark Newton (22) in Friday’s Class 2A playoff game at Texico. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
TEXICO — Two big pass plays kept Eunice in the game for a while, but Texico’s power eventually took over.
The Wolverines failed to complete a pass, but they dominated Eunice with 340 rushing yards and pulled away to a 36-13 win over the Cardinals in a Class 2A first-round playoff game Friday night.
Senior Justin Garrison rushed for 188 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries for Texico (5-5). He also returned a punt 68 yards to set up the Wolverines’ final TD, and collected the team’s third interception against Eunice junior quarterback Corey Lujan late in the contest.
“It was a team effort,” Garrison said of the victory. “The guys played their hearts out the whole game.”
Texico plays at top-seeded and unbeaten Santa Rosa next week in the quarterfinals. The Lions beat Texico 48-0 in a District 2-2A game on Oct. 13.
Garrison said the Wolverines weren’t overlooking Eunice (4-7).
“You can’t overlook any game,” he said. “You have to take it one step at a time.
“I never worry about (the next opponent). The coaches always get us prepared.”
Lujan threw scoring passes of 52 and 56 yards to freshman Gage Guffey — the latter was a deflection off the hands of another Eunice receiver.
But he finished just 9-of-32 for 163 yards, and the Texico defense limited Eunice to minus-9 yards rushing on 16 attempts.
“We got beat up front a little bit,” said Eunice coach T.R. Sartor, whose team lost in the first round of the playoffs for a third consecutive year. “We’ve just got to get a little bigger and stronger.
“Other than (Texico’s) first drive of the second half, I was pretty proud of our effort on defense.”
The first Lujan-to-Guffey TD strike pulled Eunice to 14-7 at halftime, but Texico went 62 yards in only three plays following the second-half kickoff with Garrison taking a toss from quarterback Casey Crist around left end to score from 17 yards out.
Eunice closed within a touchdown again on its next series, but Garrison rambled 43 yards off left tackle to make it 28-13. A mishandled shotgun snap by Lujan and a grounding penalty then backed the Cardinals to their own 3, and Lujan took a safety by running out of the end zone from punt formation on fourth down.
Sophomore Mario Posada scored from 2 yards out on the first play after Garrison’s long punt return to cap the scoring early in the final period.
“Garrison ran well and the line blocked good, but we still made silly mistakes,” Texico coach Mike Prokop said, referring primarily to 105 yards in penalties. “We just can’t make the type of mistakes we made tonight (against Santa Rosa) and expect to come out on top.”