TEXICO — The Clayton Yellowjackets caught unbeaten Texico off-guard early in Friday's District 2-2A matchup.
Quarterback Alberto Salgado and running back Nick Wiseman used their speed and strength to attack the Wolverines' defense early on. After a 67-yard touchdown drive following the opening kickoff, though, Texico forced three first-quarter fumbles and eventually took control after halftime in a 49-20 win to set up a showdown for the district title next Friday in Santa Rosa.
Wolverines coach Ryan Autrey said the Yellowjackets (5-4, 1-3 district) changed up their attack from previous games, mixing in some passes with primarily an option-style ground game between Salgado and Wiseman.
"We've never seen that offense (from Clayton) before," Autrey said. "They just kind of caught us off-guard. We didn't have time to adjust right away."
Senior Shay Harrison ran for four touchdowns and 178 yards and senior quarterback Rallin Harris added 96 yards and two scores for Texico (8-0, 3-0).
Another turn of events late in the half, though, helped Texico gain control.
With the Wolverines leading 14-6, Harrison dropped a 39-yard punt on the Clayton 1 midway through the second period. The Yellowjackets couldn't move the ball, and Salgado had to field a high snap in punt formation.
With the Wolverines bearing down on him, he tried to run out of the end zone, only to be tripped up by senior nose guard Daniel Gomez just as he crossed the goal line. With the ball inside the 1, Harrison scored on the next play.
"They just set me up on the outside," Gomez said. "Our defensive end, John Myers, went inside to block the punt and he chased (Salgado) out."
Clayton closed to 20-14 right before halftime, but the Yellowjackets' onside kick to start the second half traveled only eight yards. Six plays later, Harrison scored from 8 yards out, Harris ran for the two-point conversion and the rout was on.
Texico's defense held Clayton to five first downs and less than 100 total yards in the second half, and much of that came late.
Gomez and Autrey both said there were no major adjustments.
"Defensively, we just kind of settled down," Autrey said. "We've been in some games where we've played well in the first half and kind of fell apart in the second half.
"I think the kids just started seeing where things were coming from."
The Wolverines figure they'll go in next week as underdogs at Santa Rosa (9-0, 3-0), which used its single-wing attack to crush Tucumcari 48-6 on Friday night.
"We've got to make better tackles," Gomez said. "They (Lions running backs) won't go down easily. Their running back are tougher than these were."
Autrey said the Wolverines haven't been looking ahead to next week's game, although he intimated it was hard not to do.
"We've put ourselves in a spot we wanted to be in," he said. "It's all about being disciplined (against the single-wing) this next week."