By Arnie Leshin
Santa Fe High is still in the hunt for the District 5-5A title, but now it will take a point differential win Friday night at cross-town rival Capital to have a chance following Friday night’s tough 25-22 loss to visiting Albuquerque Del Norte at Ivan Head Stadium.
With the soaring Jaguars’ 53-0 rout up at reeling Los Alamos, a victory for the Demons over the reigning district champion Knights would havemade for a classic city match-up with the district title on the line.
But third-year Santa Fe High head coach Andrew Martinez got his own version of a playoff game when his team had to overcome a 15-0 deficit early in the second quarter, and then a 22-14 gap in overtime. But defensive breakdowns got in the way.
Also in the way was Del Norte junior running back Isaiah Ortiz rushing for 200 yards and the quarterbacking of Adrian Marquez, but still it was the Demons hanging in there and hoping to mount a comeback.
They got in touchdown range inside the Knights’10 four times, but scored only once on a 5-yard scoot into the end zone by Martell Mora in the second quarter. But the other two threats failed on a fumble recovered by Del Norte, and losing the ball on downs.
The Knights, though, advanced to 3-6 overall and 1-1 in district by putting their own three drives inside the Demons’ red zone and coming away with a touchdown and a field goal, which made for the difference.
Said Mora, who scored all three touchdowns for the home team: “We’ve got to get overtime ourselves. We’re shooting each other in the foot. Three times we were in the red zone and we didn’t score when we should have.”
Marquez, who completed 6-of-11 passes while Ortiz powered the ground game, found Exsavior Sanchez for a wide-open 33-yard touchdown throw with a minute to go in the first half.
It was in fact a dreadful opening half for Santa Fe High, now 4-5 overall and 1-1 in district, allowing the Knights 240 yards of total offense. The visitors needed only two plays to take a 7-0 lead, and the advantage became 15-0 just 40 seconds into the second quarter, with Ortiz scoring from a yard out.
Spotting the visiting team 15 points wasn’t what the Demons intended to do, but then responded by getting to within 15-14. Then the defense crumbled again, allowing Ortiz to step down the sidelines to score and increase the margin to 22-14, followed by a field goal to go up 25-14.
But Santa Fe High wasn’t about to quit. Mora caught a pass down the sidelines from sophomore quarterback Luc Jaramillo and turned it into a 60-yard TD, and now it was 25-22 after the two-point conversion was made. But on the next possession, Jaramillo missed on three-straight passes to lose the ball on downs.
Now the Knights can only hope for a 3-way tie by disposing of Los Alamos. That can occur only if Santa Fe High defeats Capital by five points in the plus/minus point differential used for tiebreakers to win district. Anything less brings the Jaguars the district title, and could also get Del Norte the 12thand final playoff spot.
It isn’t the strongest of districts, but at least it comes down to a Santa Fe High at Capital showdown with something on the line.