Eagle football wins easily; earns first-round playoff bye

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A measure of justice was delivered Friday night in a rain-soaked Belen 56-9 win over Grants on the Eagles home field.

Belen missed the Class 4A playoffs last season, due in part to a final-week loss at Grants. The Pirates went as the third-place team in district 6-4A and the Eagles sat at home.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: Belen’s Trenton Barba breaks tackles late in the Eagles 56-9 win over Grants last Friday, and BHS earned the No. 4 seed in the Class 4A playoffs. They’ll play either Roswell High or Deming the weekend of Nov. 24.

The Eagles won’t have that problem this year as Belen (8-2, 4-1 in 6-4A) will be the No. 4 seed in the state playoffs, getting a bye for the first week and hosting the winner of the No. 7 Deming vs. No. 12 Roswell game Friday night.

The second-round times and dates have not yet been determined, but will be either Friday or Saturday of the Thanksgiving weekend. Belen won its season opener at Deming, 14-7.

District champion Los Lunas, who beat Belen 40-0 in the regular season, is the two-seed and on the opposite side of the bracket. The county rivals would not meet until the state championship game.

It looked like Grants (5-5, 2-3) might pull the upset again in a consistent first-half rain storm in the regular-season finale’.

The teams traded fumbles in the first half with Dylan Greenlee pouncing on a Pirate fumble on the far sideline to stop the first Grants drive in Belen territory. Three plays later, Eagle quarterback Chris Peralta made an ill-advised pitch as he was being tackled, and Grants eventually recovered the ball at its 22-yard line.

The Pirates went on a 12-play drive after the fumble recovery that ended with Julian Billy’s 6-yard touchdown rumble that gave the Pirates a 6-0 lead as the first quarter ended.

The lead did not last long. Wyatt Robinson returned the kickoff to the Pirate 38-yard line and then ripped off 20 yards on the next play, and Xavier Armijo found the end zone three plays later from two yards out.

Armijo and Robinson found paydirt in each of the successive Belen drives, pushing the Belen advantage to 20-6.

Robinson added a 38-yard touchdown run with 1:50 on the clock after a Pirate punt. D’Arcangeli’s kick made it 27-6 at the half.

Robinson led the Belen running attack with 137 yards on 11 carries. Armijo had 120 yards on 12 totes, bringing his season total to 1,132 yards. The Belen senior is second in the district, behind Jalen Chavez of Los Lunas with 1,176 yards.

Chris Peralta added 55 yards on nine carries, and Trent Barba had three carries for 30 yards in the second half.

Peralta completed two passes, the only two he threw — one for an eight-yard touchdown to Armijo, who added a touchdown run of six yards in the third quarter to give the Eagles a 41-6 lead.

Grants kicker Quanah Mariano hit a 43-yard field goal to make it 41-9 just before the end of the quarter.

Peralta and Manuel Romero had touchdown runs in the fourth period.

Greenlee not only had two fumble recoveries in the game, but with 2:52 left in the game, he caught hold of quarterback Cassius Corley in the end zone and twisted him to the ground for a safety.


-- Email the author at mstearns@news-bulletin.com.