BAYFIELD - Not even David Hawkins was sure what to do when he found the ball in his hands during the opening drive of the game. With all eyes on him, he ran 30 yards untouched to the end zone to begin a senior night to remember.
The Bayfield High School senior scooped up a dropped backwards pass by the Montezuma-Cortez Panthers. With no whistle, he finally decided to run toward the end zone. When he crossed the goal line, the referees signaled for a touchdown, and the Wolverines had a 6-0 lead before fans had even settled into their regular seats inside Wolverine Country Stadium.
It was only the start of a lopsided win for the fourth-ranked and defending Class 2A state champion Bayfield High School football team, which went on to beat Montezuma-Cortez 39-3 on senior night.
“I had no idea that was a fumble,” Hawkins said of the first score. “I scooped it up with one hand. They didn’t blow the whistle, so I took off with it and it turned out it was a touchdown, and I was proud of it.”
The Wolverines (5-1, 2-0 2A Intermountain League) extended their school record winning streak to 23 consecutive home wins on the last Friday night game under the lights the 19 seniors will ever play at home.
“It means the world to me,” BHS senior Keyon Prior said. “I’ve been playing with this group my whole life. We made so many memories. We went through sixth-grade and won the YAFL super bowl. Seventh-grade, we fell a little short, and eighth-grade we got it again. From my freshman year all the way up, we stuck together and ground it out. It’s a brotherhood here, so it’s special to win my last Friday night lights here.”
The win didn’t come without a loss, though. BHS senior quarterback Hayden Farmer came out of the halftime locker room with his left arm in a sling. He went 4-of-12 passing for 88 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Prior came in and went 2-of-2 passing for 19 yards and two touchdowns. He also had two receptions for 66 yards and two touchdowns to go with 10 rushes for 70 yards.
“It was awesome,” Prior said of playing quarterback. “I feel bad Hayden couldn’t finish his second half because he’s a senior as well. We had to do what was best for the team, and I had fun while doing it.”
Hawkins finished with 150 rushing yards and a touchdown on 19 carries to go with his defensive score.
“With the wet conditions, we knew we were going to have to run the ball,” Hawkins said. “I looked forward to it all week. I play the game to be physical, and I love that aspect of the game. It was fun tonight.”
The defense of Bayfield showed why it will once again be a state title contender. The Wolverines held Panthers quarterback Ike Dennison to 11-of-30 passing for 52 yards. As a team, the Panthers had 53 yards of total offense, while Isaac Lorenzen, Rhett Hoover and Daniel Westbrook routinely stuffed plays in the backfield and combined for four sacks.
“I’ve been playing with Rhett and David on the line since third-grade,” Lorenzen said. “They’ve always been the two D-ends, and I’m the D-tackle. It’s fun being able to play with them on senior night on our home field.
“We definitely wanted to contain their quarterback and do everything we could to get back there and put pressure on him. They do a lot of quick passes, and it’s hard to do what we want, but the goal is the same, and that’s to get back there, pressure them and break their mold.”
BHS took a 25-3 lead into halftime, though the gap could have been much larger. Montezuma-Cortez (3-4, 1-2 IML) went the wrong direction with the ball on its next four possessions and punted each time. When the Bayfield offense first hit the field, the team quickly scored on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Farmer to Prior. The extra point from Max McGhehey, another senior, was good, and BHS led 13-0 with 7 minutes, 35 seconds to play in the first quarter.
After the next Cortez punt, Farmer again hit Prior on a 34-yard touchdown pass on a perfectly executed run-pass-option play that made the entire Panthers defense believe Farmer had handed the ball off to Hawkins. In a flash, Bayfield led 19-0 with 6 minutes to play in the first quarter.
“I was wide open both times, and Hayden put the ball where it needs to be, and I ran into the end zone,” Prior said. “That’s all it is. Hayden is a great quarterback.”
Bayfield’s offense began to sputter from there, but the team added a 53-yard touchdown run by Hawkins with 6:43 to go in the second quarter. Hawkins ran for 84 yards on only seven carries in the first half.
Montezuma-Cortez was able to turn one Bayfield miscue into points. After Farmer fumbled with an option pitch behind Prior, Matthew Broughton recovered it for the Panthers on the Bayfield 18. Chance Cote would go on to make a 27-yard field goal to cut the BHS lead to 193 in the first minute of the second quarter.
BHS limited the mistakes in the second half, but the Wolverines had to do it without Farmer. Prior took over at quarterback and ran a version of the wildcat offense, with Bayfield running option plays the rest of the night.
After Prior made a miraculous 22 yard run on third-and-11, he converted another key third-down play early in the fourth quarter. He actually threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Hilliker to give BHS a 32-3 lead with 10:29 to play in the game.
Five minutes later, Prior threw another touchdown pass, this time a 12-yard strike to Cameron Liddell.
Prior said the second-half game plan was to run Hawkins left and right and maybe counter with a few runs of his own.
“It always hurts when you’re losing your starting quarterback,” Hawkins said. “We stayed optimistic. I was excited to run the wildcat because we’ve practice it a bit all year. I knew Keyon could step up. When we can control the ball and run it down their throw, that’s what it’s all about.”
BHS will go on the road for the final two weeks of the regular season with a trip next Friday to Pagosa Springs and then a potential IML championship game Oct. 26 in Salida (7-0, 2-0 IML).