It was a wild night in Bisbee for the 150th meeting of the historic rivalry between the Douglas Bulldogs and the Bisbee Pumas.
A game that started on Friday night, ended at five minutes past midnight Saturday morning, featured a 90-minute lightning delay, countless penalties, seven different players from Douglas getting injured — some season ending, and a Bisbee team whose front line pretty much controlled Douglas in what resulted in a 36-21 Puma win.
With the win, Bisbee retains custody of The Pick for another year. This year marked the 75th year of The Pick being awarded to the winner of the Bisbee vs. Douglas game.
Douglas won the toss and opted to defer to the second half allowing Bisbee to come out and run the ball straight at the Bulldogs going 55-yards in seven plays in under two minutes, which was capped off by a 16-yard touchdown pass.
Douglas moved the ball fairly effectively on its first possession of the game but was stymied by a couple of costly penalties that led to the Pumas getting the ball back where they proceeded to score once again, this time on a 12-yard run taking a 12-0 lead.
Jesus Berthley, one of the Bulldogs main ball carriers, left the game in the first quarter and would not return. His injury started what would be a run of seven different Bulldogs getting injured throughout the course of the game.
Two and a half minutes into the second quarter the Bulldogs found themselves pinned deep in their own territory at their own 13-yard line. Quarterback Trey Rose opted to go to the air and connected with Alejandro Molina for what would be an 87-yard touchdown pass bringing the Douglas faithful to its feet. Joaquin Escalante’s successful extra point kick pulled Douglas to within five at 12-7.
Bisbee was not bothered by the score and came right back, running the ball right at the ‘Dog defense going 88-yards in 12 plays, again aided by a couple of Douglas penalties, eventually scoring on a 14-yard run. The successful two-point conversion run padded Bisbee’s lead to 20-7.
With 34 seconds left in the half, Rose and Molina hooked up again for a 27-yard TD strike cutting the Pumas lead to 20-14.
In this quarter, fullbacks Andres Juarez and John Ballesteros, who had just been cleared to play, left the game with injuries. Ballesteros re-aggravated his hamstring injury while Juarez appears to have suffered a season ending injury. Joining them in the third would be Molina who was hit hard attempting to make a catch near the endzone. He left the game and also would not return.
The Bulldogs began the second half with a quarterback sack and two incomplete passes before punting the ball back over to Bisbee.
The Pumas needed just two plays to score again increasing their lead to 28-14.
Seconds after 9 p.m., with 9:45 remaining on the game clock and Douglas facing a second and one from its own 40, play was halted and the field at Warren Ballpark cleared as lightning was spotted in the area. Each visible sighting in the area resulted in a 30-minute delay.
At 10:30 p.m. the two teams and what fans remained, were allowed to return to the field. Play resumed 15 minutes later at 10:45.
Bisbee would score once more after the delay increasing its lead to 34-14.
The Puma defense would later tackle Rey Ozuna in the endzone for a safety.
The Bulldogs would close out the game with a 70-yard TD pass from Rose to Adrian Estrada as the game ended at 12:05 a.m. Saturday morning.
Douglas’ coach Hunter Long said afterwards he was pleased with how his players continued to fight all night long despite all the obstacles they were facing throughout the course of the game.
“It was at battle out here tonight,” he said. “The scoreboard doesn’t reflect the outcome that we wanted but I am so proud of these guys. They way they fought, the way they stayed in it against all odds. We were depleted with a bunch of injuries starting in the first quarter and for these guys to stay in it and battle the way they did, I couldn’t be more proud of these guys.”
Long has been a player in both the Bisbee vs. Douglas game as well as the University of Arizona vs. ASU rivalry. To now be a head coach in this historic game he described as a crazy experience.
“It’s been an interesting experience to say the least,” he said. “We came out ready to play, they just made more plays than us.”
Douglas, 1-1, will be back at home this Friday night taking on an Empire Raven team that dropped its season opener to Rio Rico 44-14 this past Friday night.