Los Lunas leaps past overmatched Hawks

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On Wednesday, No. 4 Los Lunas found out that No. 5 Centennial were slated to become their district foes beginning with the 2014-15 season

On Friday night, the Tigers gave the Hawks a rude welcome to Willie Chavez Field, defeating the Las Cruces school 51-10 in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A State Football Playoffs.

News-Bulletin file photo: LINEBACKER DARRON GALLEGOS (8), defensive back Oscar Ordonez (21), defensive end Dane Authement (52) and the Los Lunas defense, shown here making a tackel against Belen in October, held Centennial to 164-yards on offense.

Senior Darron Gallegos threw for two touchdowns and returned an interception for another touchdown as the Tigers forced seven turnovers by Centennial (9-3) — five interceptions and two fumbles. Senior Jalen Chavez ran for a pair of touchdowns and pulled in two interceptions himself in the win.

“Our defense played amazing, only 164 yards allowed, and we were able to get some big plays on offense,” said coach Duane Toliver. “It was a pretty well-rounded game. Our guys just flew to the ball and tackled well.”

With the win, Los Lunas (9-2) earned a trip to the state semifinals for the second year in a row, where they will get a rematch with top-seeded Roswell Goddard at 7 p.m. Friday in the Wool Bowl in Roswell. The Rockets defeated the Tigers 17-14 at Chavez Field in the Class 4A State Championship game last December.

On Friday night, Los Lunas began their 2013 playoff run looking nothing like the fluid and powerful offense they have exhibited the last three weeks, said coach Duane Toliver.

The Hawks forced a fumble in the first quarter that resulted in a field goal to give Centennial a 3-0 lead going into the second quarter.

“I’d love to say that we came out and jumped on them early, but we showed a little rust tonight,” said Toliver. “We sputtered a bit out the gate, it took a quarter to get our feet under us.”

Chavez got the Tigers going in the second quarter, grabbing the first of five interceptions forced from the hand of Centennial’s senior quarterback, Quevin Redding.

Chavez then scored on an 8-yard run not long after to give Los Lunas a 7-3 lead. Gallegos followed that with a 5-yard touchdown pass to senior wideout Jacob Holland and the Tigers took a 14-3 lead into halftime.

After a 15-yard pass from Gallegos to Randy Moore increased the LLHS lead to 21-3, Centennial finally found the end zone when senior running back Daniel Conklin ran the ball in from five yards out to cut the Tigers advantage to 21-10.

Los Lunas turned it on from there, scoring 30 unanswered points as Chavez broke away for a 60-yard touchdown run and Gallegos ran back an interception 45 yards for a touchdown. Senior quarterback Ryan Kline added a pair of touchdowns down the stretch — one through the air to Chris Sanchez for 17 yards and the other on a 4-yard run — and Dylan Kelly-Romero added a 44-yard field goal.

“We got them out of what they wanted to do, they want to run the ball got them out of that force to throw, and as result we were able to get five interceptions tonight,” Tolvier said.

Los Lunas racked up 438 yards of total offense against Centennial, 217 rushing and 221 passing.

Toliver said his team is definitely ready for a rematch with Goddard, which has won three of the last five 4A championships and played in six of the last seven title games and beat Los Lunas with a late field goal in last season’s title game.

The Rockets have only lost to a Class 4A opponent three times since the 2007— twice to Artesia in the 2010 season and in the 2011 championship game 28-27 to Aztec. Since that loss, the Rockets have gone 22-2 with their sole losses coming to Class 5A Rio Rancho and Clovis this season. Goddard went undefeated, 14-0, in winning the title in 2012.

“We can’t wait to get after it,” Toliver said. “They’re definitely good, but I think we can get after them. I’ll always take out guys over anyone any day.”

Albuquerque’s ProView Networks is also likely to have a video stream of the game available at www.proviewnetworks.com. The site does charge a $15 monthly fee for subscribers.

Goddard’s radio broadcats are typically broadcast by KBIM-AM/FM in Roswell, which is on the Internet at www.kbim949.com