Returning senior Lucas McNatt scoring twice in non district contest. Comes six days after St. Michael’s stunned visiting, unbeaten Portales
By ARNIE LESHIN, Santa Fe Today
The City Different struck again Friday night.
Six days after St. Michael’s stunned previously undefeated Portales, 21-20, at Christian Brothers Athletic Complex, across town at Capital it was the Jaguars doing the same against Moriarty, 14-7, the top-ranked team in 4A and who had dominated its first four opponents.
“The team came out intense and focused,” said Bill Moon, the proud head coach of Capital. “It wasn’t anything of beauty, Moriarty kept taking shots but our kids stood toe-to-toe, finished what they started.”
Now 2-3, with Lovington (2-3) paying a visit Friday night before The Jags start District 2-5A play at Albuquerque Del Norte, the home crowd at Jaguar Field were into the game early as its team scored once each in the first and second quarters and held a 14-0 lead at halftime.
First, senior Lucas McNatt, who hadn’t played since he sprained an ankle in the opener at Goddard, picked up a Moriarty fumble and took it 46 yards for a first quarter touchdown.
Next, senior quarterback Cisco Leos connected on a 43-yard pass play with McNatt, who was playing for the first time since he sprained his ankle in the opener at Goddard, and the state 5A high jump champion scored again in the second quarter. The drive went 87 yards in nine plays and concluded with 13 seconds left before halftime.
From there, the Pintos mounted some drives behind versatile senior quarter Dylan Tapia, who was instrumental in last year’s 25-0 home win over Capital. But penalties, mostly personal fouls, did a number on them. Several times, a drive was interrupted by these miscues, with Moriarty whistled for 15 in all after picking up nine in the first half.
But it was the final Pinto drive that mattered most when they came thisclose to tying the game. A team that had scored 182 points and allowed only 41 coming into this non district contest, Moriarty had the ball for the last time following the Jaguars chewing up 6 minutes and 3 seconds before punting away with 3:09 showing on the clock.
Junior Leo Guzman, who kicked both PATs, got off a quality boot to the Pintos’ 10. Tapia then picked it up and ran 10 yards, but another penalty by his team placed the ball back at the 10.
Then the final threat began. Sophomore Julian Encinas ran for 12 yards then caught a pass from Tapia to get to his own 39. Tapia then ran for 1 yard, as did senior Jose Cano. Now there was two minutes left as Tapia found Encinas with a 15-yard throw for a first down at the Capital 47.
Next, Tapia faked a pass and scrambled 17 yards to the Jaguar 36 with 1:06 left. He then connected with Cano to move the ball to the 27. After an offside penalty against the Pintos, it was third and seven when Tapia again took off for 19 yards to reach the 8 with 50 seconds remaining.
But the Capital defense kept hanging tough.
A 5-yard offside was called against Moriarty and Tapia recovered his own fumble after pressure was applied, and it was third and 19. He gained 6 yards, and on the next play, went scrambling toward the goal line, but when he got there, he came up thisshort when he was declared down inside the 1 on a fourth and 13. The side judge made the call and it was now the Jaguars’ ball.
“On that play,” Moon said, “Guzman was grabbed by his shirt, no call was made, but he remained in the play by hustling back to trip up Tapia. It was just an amazing recovery by Guzman, an extra ordinary play.”
Now the Jags took over with 10 seconds left and Leos, instead of just taking a safety, just ran straight ahead as the clock expired.
“Cisco did real well,” said Moon. “He was sacked four-five times, but never committed a turnover. No fumbles, no interceptions.”
In fact, Capital had only one fumble and that was recovered by freshman ball carrier Luke Padilla. It had half as many penalties as the visitors and kept its composure until the final whistle.
“Our pocket protection was real good,” Moon said. “and it kept Cisco from the pressure. And then there was Padilla, a freshman taking over because of the injury to (Alexis) Miranda. I never like to play freshmen, but Padilla is a gifted runner and we needed someone like him.”
“Also, before that drive we had that ate up time on the clock, I had told the team that every second counts. Each second you consume allows them less time, and it worked.”
The Pintos led in the statistics with 357 overall yards, 273 along the ground and 91 through the air. Capital received a team-high 82 rushing yards from Padilla, and Leos threw for 44, but only the victory mattered.
NOTE: Moon, one of the best at delivering quotes, referred to former boxing champion Jake LaMotta, who passed away at 95 on Wednesday.
“We were like Jake,” Moon said. “He would take a lot of punches, get all beat up, but then answer back in a rage. We played like this.”
Santa Fe High wasn’t as fortune as its losing streak reached 28 with Friday night’s 28-0 setback at Roswell Goddard. St. Michael’s had a bye weekend and Santa Fe Indian School suffered its first loss when it was routed, 62-7, by visiting, undefeated Taos.