By Arnie Leshin
Ten straight times St. Michael’s was more than just an approximate mile better than Siringo Road rival Santa Fe High.
During that span, each time they faced off on the football field, games ended early via the mercy-rule, the usual impressive, enthusiastic turnout left early,
and benches emptied when it became no contest.
Not to have to go through the weekly routs, last year’s game at Ivan Head Stadium left the Horsemen departing with a 49-0 domination.
No matter that the Demons lead the long-time series, 49-35-3, these results over the last decade have come on the Santa Fe High gridiron after the home and away sites eliminated Christian Brothers Athletic Complex because of a lack of space that most times had more standing room only crowds than those occupying seats.
But Friday night at Ivan Head Stadium, the fans got to watch a game, an actual tight game that went back-and-forth and went down to the final seconds, brought six lead changes, and ended with St. Michael’s on top again, but this time 32-28, and the final score points out how close the Demons came to finally getting past the Horsemen, who finally won a game after three-straight dismal losses, and dropped Santa Fe High to 3-3.
The end result this time came when St. Michael’s sophomore quarterback Lucas Coriz found senior wide receiver Rico Gurule with an 18-yard fourth and goal pass into the left corner of the end zone with 1:39 left. The ball was tipped by Santa Fe High’s Joaquin Martinez and Davee Gonzales, but it landed in Gurule’s hands as he fell on his back, and with the two-point conversion good, put the lead at the final score of 32-28.
It was St. Michael’s scoring first and going up 6-0 in the opening quarter. But the Demons responded with eight points in the same quarter and six more in the second to grab a 14-6 halftime advantage. But the Horsemen scored twice in the third quarter, although failing on both point-after kicks, but going up 18-14 before Santa Fe answered with a TD in the third to ease ahead 20-18 after three quarters.
At this time, there were three lead changes, something new to see in the last 10 encounters of this series, but then came a fourth lead change when St. Michael’s tallied, made the PAT, and were ahead again 26-20, when the fifth lead change put the Demons up 28-26 after adding the two-point conversion. The sixth came next.
Gurule went from fumbling away a probable first down midway through the fourth that might have increased his team’s lead from 26-20. The wide receiver caught a pass from sophomore quarterback Lucas Coriz and had the ball jarred loose, allowing Demons linebacker Daniel Wright to recover it at midfield.
It wasn’t as bad as his team being penalized 15 times for 153 yards, but it slowed down the Horsemen offense.
Still, it was Gurule adding to his eight catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns by becoming the hero who caught the winning throw from Coriz in the end zone on a fourth and goal play from the Santa Fe High 18 with 49 seconds remaining. Coriz’ pass headed into the left corner of the end zone and Gurule fell on his back with the ball after it was tipped by Demons Joaquin Martinez and Davee Gonzales.
It was Gurule and Coriz who also combined for the touchdown that put the Horsemen in front 26-20 with 11 minutes left. Coriz flipped the ball to Gurule, who threw it back to Coriz on the left sideline and he followed his blocks to score.
But Santa Fe High didn’t go away, didn’t let St. Michael’s extend this six-point lead until it responded by going 49 yards in five plays behind sophomore quarterback Luc Jaramillo, who got the ball to running back Kevin Garcia, who sped into the end zone from 24 yards out with the clock showing 4:34. Jaramillo then connected with a two-point toss to Nico Martinez and the Demons now in front 28-26.
St. Michael’s than used up almost four minutes on its next possession when Coriz saved the night by finding Gurule on the fourth and long for the TD and the final score of 32-28.
Again though, third-year head coach Andrew Martinez’ Demons didn’t quit. They worked for the go-ahead tally in the last 1:37. Jaramillo ran for six yards from the Horsemen 47, tossed two incomplete passes, and then connected with Martell Mora for eight yards, but the clock ran down before they could try an end zone pass of their own.
It is bye week coming up for Santa Fe High, while St. Michael’s is home Saturday afternoon, kickoff 1:30, against Cathedral High of El Paso, Tx.
On Nov. 1, the Demons are at Capital for a night tilt.