Los Lunas quarterback Kade Benavidez attempts to break a tackle during the first half of the Tigers blowout win over Valencia High School on Friday night.

Los Lunas had no problem with Valencia on Friday night, beating the Jaguars 50-0 with a third-quarter mercy-rule victory.

“We said this is the second part of our season and we wanted to come out and make a statement,” Los Lunas head coach Jeremy Maupin said. “We wanted to come out and play good football, play our type of football and I thought the kids responded.

The Tigers scored less than 20 seconds into the game on their first play from scrimmage.

Quarterback Kade Benavidez flipped the ball forward to running back Donald Thomas, who got to the right sideline and went untouched into the endzone to put LLHS up 7-0.

LLHS doubled the lead with 6:18 remaining in the quarter as running back Derek Chavez took the ball up the middle from inside the five.

A two-point conversion made it 15-0 in favor of the Tigers.

Thomas got his second touchdown of the game, this time through the air as Benavidez hit him in stride on a slant route in the middle of the endzone to make it 22-0.

“We got the offense rolling early, scored on the first play,” Maupin said. “I thought our defense played great, two touchdowns on defense.”

Valencia was unable to generate any positive offensive momentum in the half, which was highlighted by the two pick-sixes that quarterback Rey Garcia threw.

Garcia was hit repeatedly and rarely had enough time to check down to his second option as the Tigers made the most of the size advantage they held over VHS, particularly on the offensive and defensive line and spent plenty of time hurrying the freshman.

The first pick-six came with 58 seconds left in the first quarter, as Isaac Felts jumped on an underthrown ball and took it to the house to make the score 29-0.

Devin Gallegos got the next touchdown for the Tigers, scoring on a sweep to make it 36-0 with 7:29 left in the first half.

Dominic Baca had the second pick-six when he jumped in front of the Jaguars receiver and had a clear path to the endzone for the final score of the half, giving LLHS a 43-0 lead.

Los Lunas played the second string on both sides of the ball in the second half, and the defense came out with a stop on Valencia’s first drive into Tiger territory, something that Maupin was pleased with.

LLHS finished the game off with 11 seconds left in the third quarter as freshman quarterback Paul Cieremans got a chance to run the Tigers offense. Cieremans only earned a varsity number last week.

He finished the game himself with a quarterback keeper up the middle. A converted extra point finished things off and the Tigers secured a 50-0 win.

“Our two offense goes out and has a great drive down the field,” Maupin said. “We had a freshman quarterback in there to get him some reps and I thought he really did well. He had a good throw and some good runs. We ran inside, we ran outside, I really like what we did there too.”

Maupin wasn’t happy after the game against Alamogordo last week as the team struggled with penalties, particularly holding penalties.

However, the Tigers had that cleaned up this week and avoided being whistled for a single hold. LLHS met nearly all of the goals that the coaching staff had set out for the game, with the exception being turnovers. The goal for the Tigers was to force three turnovers, but they fell short with only two.

This week, Los Lunas will host Valley on Friday at 7 p.m., while Valencia will head to Belen in a matchup that is scheduled for the same time.

Belen defeated Valley last Saturday, 48-0, for the Eagles first win since week one of the season when they defeated Del Norte.

Backup quarterback Ben Hirschfeld threw four touchdowns in the win. Valley dropped to 0-8 with the loss, while Belen improved to 2-6.

A full recap of that game is included in this issue.

The Vikings are still looking for their first win of the season but don’t seem equipped to threaten the Tigers on Friday night with a lackluster offense that was only able to put together one redzone drive against a Belen team that has struggled to keep opponents off the board all season. They also provided the Eagle offense with the confidence boost it had been looking for, particularly without its starting quarterback.

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