BHS, Tigers go to 3-0; Jags give ‘Dogs a scare

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Belen and Los Lunas High’s football squads both took different paths in remaining undefeated, while Valencia High lost a close game to perennial state title contender Artesia.

Eagles senior Trenton Barba scored a pair of touchdown runs, including a 1-yard plunge in overtime to give Belen a hard-fought homecoming win over the visiting Pintos.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: BELEN HIGH’S ANDREW CASTILLO, left, jukes a gaggle of Moriarty defenders in the Eagles homecoming game win Friday night.

After each scoring 21 first-half points, the teams locked into a defensive battle in the second half, producing no scoring in the rest of regulation.

In overtime, Moriarty started on its own 10-yard line and looked to be ready to score when sophomore running back Allen Michel opened halftime with a 6-yard run. But Michel was stacked up on third-and-4, gaining only 1 yard. Moriarty then missed a chip-shot field goal attempt.

On their overtime possesion, Belen wasted no time, handing the ball to Barba on three consecutive plays, moving to the 1-yard line after two plays. Barba easily burst in for the game-winning touchdown on third down.

“We just needed to get a defensive stop,” Barba said. “Once we got that stop, we knew we were going to punch it in.”

The game hinged largely on big plays and Belen’s bend-but-don’t-break defensive effort in the second half. Moriarty (1-2) began the game with a seven-play, 68-yard touchdown drive. But the Eagles answered on the next play as junior Manuel Romero ran back the kickoff 82 yards to tie the game at 7-7.

The Pintos answered on the next possession, producing another line drive capped by a touchdown to take a 14-7 lead. But the Eagles struck three plays later when junior quarterback Chris Peralta raced to a 47-yard touchdown, tying the game at 14-14.

The Eagles got a break on the ensuing kickoff, stripping the ball from the up-man on the squib kickoff and taking over on the Moriarty 26-yard line. Barba burst in for a 2-yard touchdown eight plays later to give BHS a 21-14 lead.

Kenn Rodriguez- News-Bulletin photo: QUARTERBACK ANTHONY SANCHEZ of Los Lunas High School, right, shown here against Alamo-gordo, threw for three touchdowns and 147 yards through the air in the Tigers’ 50-0 win over Albuquerque Del Norte last week.

Moriarty got its last big scoring play just before halftime when junior quarterback Skylar Pearson dropped in a long pass over the outstretched hands of a Belen defender to senior Kade Bond, who raced away with the 63-yard touchdown pass that left the game tied 21-21 at halftime.

“It was a war out there, with two super teams,” said coach John Lerma. “Our offense sputtered for most of the game. But our defense kept us in the game.”

Belen managed just 136 yards of total offense, with 122 coming from its rushing attack. Moriarty’s Wing-T offense produced 298 yards of total offense, with 223 on the ground. But Pearson only went 2-of-9 passing, was sacked three times, and had a pair of critical third-down passes in the second half batted down by the long arms of Belen senior defensive end Tristan Baca.

Peralta led Belen with 50 yards rushing on 10 attempts and went 2-of-3 on passing for 14 yards. Barba added 39 yards on 11 carries and Andrew Castillo managed 33 yards on eight carries.

Belen (3-0) will host the top team in Class 4A, Roswell Goddard, Friday night in a rematch of the two team’s 2012 state semifinal game. The Rockets are 2-1 after losing at home to Class 5A Rio Rancho last week.

“We’re going to have a complete ball game against Goddard,” said Lerma. “We can’t just rely on our defense. We’ll have to be good in all phases of the game. But we’re grateful for the challenge. I’ve always said, ‘To be the best, you have to beat the best.’”

The Tigers made short work of the host Knights, racking up 476 all-purpose yards on offense and scoring seven touchdowns and holding the volatile Del Norte offense to just 42 yards of total offense in going to 3-0 on the season and tallying their third consecutive mercy rule shortened game at Albuquerque’s Milne Stadium

Junior quarterback Anthony Sanchez threw three touchdowns and senior running backs Jalen Chavez and Chris Sanchez both scored a pair of touchdowns in the win. Sanchez scored one TD on a 52-yard punt return in the second quarter and finished with 136 all-purpose yards. Chavez ran for 180 yards on just seven carries as Los Lunas scored 34 points in the first quarter alone, taking advantage of short fields left them by the Knights inability to move against the Tiger defense.

“Our defense was amazing,” said head coach Duane Toliver. “To take two Division I prospects and completely shut them down was great. “To hold an offense like that to under 50 yards says a lot.”

Los Lunas, still ranked No. 2 in Class 4A by www.nmpreps.com, will face another pair of bona fide Division I prospects when they travel to Albuquerque’s Wilson Stadium this week to take on Sandia, ranked No. 9 in Class 5A.

The Matadors are 2-1 on the season after beating Albuquerque Volcano Vista 40-20 last week. Senior quarterback/defensive end Cameron Bean has offers from Arizona, New Mexico and New Mexico State while senior running back Marcus Quintana is also getting looks from college recruiters.

“It’s going to be a battle,” said Toliver. “We’ll have to play well in all aspects. The defense is going to have to clamp down and do a good job gang tackling. They have some big receivers on the outside. We’ll have to be on our game but I like our team. I like how they rise to special occasions like this.”

The Jaguars were not polite homecoming guests to the Bulldogs, tying the game at 14-14 in the third quarter and shutting the vaunted Artesia offense out in the fourth quarter. But the Bulldogs (2-1) forced the Jags offense into a pair of turnovers in the fourth quarter to hold on and hand Valencia their first loss of the season.

“We had a couple of opportunities that got away from us,” said Jaguars head coach Kevin Jolley. “You can’t turn the ball over and expect to win against a team like Artesia. But the kids were excited that we were right there with them.”

Artesia managed to score 14 first half points before senior Martin Aragon returned a second half kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 14-7 at halftime. Senior Kiko Munoz added a third quarter touchdown to tie the game before Artesia scored the games’ deciding touchdown late in the quarter.

Jolley said the Jags were able to move the ball in the first half, but weren’t able to capitalize, getting to the 10-yard-line on one drive before being knocked out of scoring position and missing a field goal on another possession.

Jolley said poor field position gave the Bulldogs advantages on two of their three touchdowns, giving his defense a lot of credit for keeping the team in the game.

“They played well all night long,” he said. “I looked at the stats and we put seven sacks for minus-30 yards against up against a team that rarely lets you get to their quarterback. That’s an accomplishment.”

Valencia (2-1) host its homecoming game this week (and the News-Bulletin Game of the Week) against Atrisco Heritage, 2-1 on the season and ranked No. 11 in Class 5A.the Jags will be charged with stopping one of the top running backs in the state early on – senior Ricci Alvidrez, who ran for 347 yards and six touchdowns last week against Las Cruces Centennial.

“He’s awfully good,” said Jolley of Alvidrez. “We’ll try to contain him and hold him to as few yards as we can. But watching them, they have other weapons too, so we can’t concentrate on him. They have a big, physical defensive line. We’ve got to play physical with them.”