By Kevin Wilson
ARTESIA — Janet Jackson’s “Doesn’t Really Matter” was the No. 1 song in the country. George W. Bush and Al Gore headed into the stretch drive of their presidential campaigns as Florida Democrats unknowingly prepared to vote for Pat Buchanan. And the Indiana Pacers had just acquired Jermaine O’Neal in one of the NBA’s most lopsided trades ever.
The day was Sept. 1, 2000, and Denver City, Texas, defeated the Portales High football team 23-0 at Greyhound Stadium. It was the last time the Rams were shut out until Friday, when the Artesia Bulldogs dominated from start to finish in a 47-0 win at the Bulldog Bowl.
The host Bulldogs (5-1) jumped out to a 14-0 lead just 5:13 in, and the Artesia defense held the Rams to nine first downs and 141 yards of offense.
“Our defense, I think, has really played a lot better the past few weeks,” Artesia coach Cooper Henderson said. “We were obviously coming off of a big loss and we were hungry for a win.”
It was a contrast in momentum, as Artesia came in off a 42-14 loss to Class 5A Las Cruces and Portales routed Class 1A Eunice 49-0 the previous week. But Friday’s momentum belonged only to the Bulldogs.
Haunted by an inability to finish off drives, Portales (4-3) lost its third game in four weeks.
The Rams held the ball for 11:04 of the first half, but Artesia built a 34-0 as Portales fumbled away a possession inside the Artesia 20 and came up short on its other five possessions.
“We needed to move the football, we needed to get first downs,” Portales head coach Glen Johnson said. “Not only did we have to do those things, we had to put the ball in the end zone. Against great football teams, that’s what you’ve got to do.”
Unfortunately for Portales, that’s exactly what Artesia did. After Artesia scored on a four-play opening drive with Gus Levario’s 2-yard run, the Bulldog passing game took center stage. Taylor Green caught the first of two touchdown receptions from David Maupin with 6:47 to go in the first, and Maupin made it 21-0 with a 13-yard run down the right sideline in the first period’s closing minute.
The Rams got inside Artesia territory on three possessions, but never got closer than the Bulldog 10, a drive in which Ram quarterback Seth Clabaugh was hit on a scramble attempt, causing a fumble the Bulldogs recovered.
Portales was inside the Artesia 40 in its last two possessions, but came up short with either penalties or turnovers. A 39-yard touchdown pass to Austin Pullen was negated by an illegal procedure penalty on one play, while the other play (and the game) was ended by Lance Velasquez’ goal-line interception.
Both teams are idle this week before entering district play. Portales travels to Ruidoso on Oct. 24 while Artesia faces Roswell.