2023 High School Football

Bisbee’s Sebastian Lopez shines in Pumas’ impressive win over Benson

Bisbee QB/CB Sebastian Lopez had a career-high 274 passing yards in the 43-13 win at Benson on Friday night (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

BENSON — The Bisbee-Benson football rivalry is one sided overall in favor of the Bobcats, but the Pumas restored some pride back in a big way on Friday night in the season opener at Benson behind the performance of junior quarterback Sebastian Lopez.

Benson won the previous five games and 10 of the last 11 matchups entering Friday’s game. The Bobcats lead the series 24-10-2.

New Bisbee coach and athletic director Shawn Holley, who last season led Holbrook to the 2A state playoff with an 11-1 record, is 1-0 in the series.

He took over for Brian Vertrees, who now owns a brewery in Bisbee.

The game was also the first 2A San Pedro game in two years between the rivals. Benson played in the 3A South last season.

Lopez, featured as one of AllSportsTucson.com’s top underclassmen of the 2023 season, completed 21 of 34 pass attempts for a career-high 274 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 137 yards on 16 carries with four touchdowns.

He finished strong, completing his last seven passes through a light-falling rain after throwing his second interception of the game midway through the third quarter.

Bryceton Meyer, a junior also a featured underclassmen in the AllSportsTucson.com series, finished with 99 yards rushing on 18 carries and 96 yards receiving on five catches.

Jose Mendez, a senior receiver, caught six passes for 91 yards and a touchdown.

Benson senior quarterback Dalton Crockett engineered a game-opening 73-yard touchdown drive but the Bobcats struggled from there, not scoring again until 4:55 remained in the third quarter. By that time, Bisbee had a 25-13 lead.

Crockett completed 11 of 24 pass attempts for 150 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Benson was also led by junior Flint Davis, who rushed for 117 yards on 18 carries, including a 15-yard touchdown run.

Brax Cluff, son of Benson coach Dustin Cluff, had seven receptions for 93 yards with a touchdown.

Bisbee’s first three possessions ended with an interception, punt and turnover on downs.

The Pumas then scored on three of their next four possessions of the first half, with Lopez accounting for all of them to take a 25-6 halftime lead.

He connected with Mendez for a 27-yard touchdown, scored on a 42-yard run and completed a 7-yard touchdown pass to junior Michael Coronado (also a featured underclassmen).

After Benson cut the lead to 25-13 with 4:55 left in the third quarter on Davis’ 15-yard run, Bisbee answered with an 80-yard scoring drive that included Lopez completing two passes for 21 yards and Meyer rushing twice for 37 yards.

Lopez completed the drive with a 1-yard scoring run to put Bisbee ahead 31-13 with 3:05 left in the third quarter.

After Benson fumbled away the ball on the ensuing kickoff, Bisbee scored four plays later on Lopez’s 6-yard run.

Lopez’s previous career-best in passing yards was 181 yards last season in a loss against San Tan Foothills.

He rushed for 166 yards on 16 carries in a 55-18 loss to Benson last season.


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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