WEB EXCLUSIVE: Belen beats Deming in first football Game of the Week

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All three Valencia County high school football teams started their seasons with wins Friday night, the first night on the gridiron this season. In the News-Bulletin’s Game of the Week, Belen defeated Deming in close defensive match-up while Los Lunas dominated Aztec 50-0 in a mercy rule shortened game at Willie Chavez Field in Los Lunas. Finally, Valencia went to Moriarty and defeated the Pintos 23-14.

You can read all about the Jaguars’ and Tigers’ triumphs in Thursday’s edition of the News-Bulletin. And don’t forget that LLHS and VHS will be our co-Games of the Week next weekend, the Tigers on Saturday morning and the Jags on Sunday morning.

GAME OF THE WEEK: BELEN 23, DEMING 20

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: BELEN's JOSH GARCIA runs an end around during the Eagles 23-20 win over Deming Friday night.

In a grind-it-out type of game at Belen High, the Eagles led 16-6 midway through the third quarter then held off a late charge by the Wildcats, recovering an onside kick with just over a minute left in the game then running out the clock to secure the win, in a rematch of last season’s Class 4A state semifinals match-up.

“Our defense hung in there and we were able to generate enough offense to keep the defense off the field,” said Eagle coach John Lerma. “But it was anybody’s ball game at the end. We beat a very good football team tonight.”

Deming took a 6-0 lead early in the first quarter on a 5-yard run from tailback

Ismail Garret. But Belen took the lead for good on a 17-yard run by junior fullback Manuel Romero minutes later. Senior tailback Andrew Castillo padded the Eagle lead with a 4-yard run with 1:54 left in the first quarter to give Belen a 13-6 lead, which it took into the half after a scoreless second quarter by both teams.

The Eagles extended the lead to 16-6 on a 36-yard field goal by senior Tristan Baca early in the third quarter. Garret again capped a long Wildcat drive to cut the lead to 16-13 with 2:14 left in the third quarter.

But Belen sealed the game when junior quarterback Chris Peralta found senior tight end Isaac Valdez open in the middle of the field for a 24-yard touchdown pass with 3:37 left in the game. Deming drove down and scored a touchdown with 1:33 left in the game but the Eagles easily covered the ensuing onside kick then ran out the clock for the win.

“I told our line ‘First man to hit them low tonight is going to win the game,’” said Valdez, who was also a key element of the Eagles defense at linebacker. “(At the end) just came together, it’s what you have to do. We came together as a ball club.”

Contact News-Bulletin reporter Kenn Rodriguez at krodriguez@news-bulletin.com.

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