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Cardinals’ dominance sees them into semifinals

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EUNICE – The Eunice Cardinal’s football team defeated Texico 50-0 Saturday afternoon to advance to the semifinals of Class 2A playoffs.

Eunice won its 23rd straight game and faces Estancia for the opportunity to play in the final.

From the beginning of the game, the Cardinals imposed their tempo and style on the Wolverines. On the opening kickoff, Cardinals’ Hayden Dean returned the ball for a 70 yards, putting his team in the red zone for the opening drive.

On the very first play, Mason Caperton threw a 17-yard pass to Juan Sosa to open the scoring. The Cardinals had a 7-0 lead with 11:42 left in the first.

On the opening drive for Texico, Eunice forced and recovered a fumble to take over at midfield. Seven plays from the fumble, Cameron Santa Cruz caught a 19-yard pass to put his team up two touchdowns with 7:16 on the clock. After the Cardinal defense forced the Wolverines to punt, the offense would need six plays to find itself in the end zone. This time Caper-ton scored on a 1-yard run with 2:34 left in the first.

The Cardinals had a 20-0 lead after the first quarter, and their offense and defense looked unstoppable. In the first quarter, the Cardinal offense scored on each of their possessions and the defense only allowed one first down to the Wolverines.

The second quarter played out similarly to the first. The Cardinals scored on their first possession, a 7-yard run by Sosa with 11:27 left in the half.

On the kickoff, the Cardinal special team forced a fumble. The offense needed only five plays before celebrating in the end zone. Evan McCalip caught a 4-yard pass from Caperton to give the Cardinals a 33-0 lead with 10:26 left.

With 2:45 left in the half, the Cardinals got the ball back with favorable field position off a bad Wolverine punt. Caperton threw a 50-yard pass to Stevens for a 40-0 lead. Then on the last play of the half, the Cardinals scored on 32-yard field goal by Gustavo Espinosa. The Cardinals went into the half with a 43-0 lead.

In the third quarter, the Cardinals defense made a big play to give the offense a chance to end the game early. On a third-and-6, the Wolverines threw an interception to Cardinal Marcus Tercero. After the interception the Cardinal offense needed seven plays to find the opening to the end zone. Dean made a 13-yard run to finish the game and book the Cardinals in the semifinal.

“We played extremely well,” said Eunice head coach Ken Stevens on his team’s performance. “I felt we came out and did exactly what I asked the kids to do, played with great energy and great enthusiasm and just really proud of the way we came out to play.”

Eunice will host Estancia in the semifinal of Class 2A on Saturday at 1 p.m. This is the third meeting between the two teams in the semifinal, and for Stevens and his Cardinals this is a rivalry game.

“We are going to have a lot bigger challenge in front of us next week,” Stevens said. “Our boys always like a challenge they want to play stuff where they are going to be challenged, I expect them to rise to the occasion.”

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