By Dave Wagner
BLACKWATER DRAW — It’s bad enough taking your lumps on the scoreboard.
For Portales High Friday night, the lumps were even worse on the field.
Numerous Rams players limped off the field during a 55-8 loss at the hands of Artesia, the state’s top-ranked Class 4A team, leaving PHS coach Glenn Johnson was left to wonder what effect the lopsided loss might have on the rest of the season.
“We definitely wanted the score to be closer,” he said. “You play good football teams to better yourself, but the other side of the coin is what happened tonight.”
PHS lost senior quarterback-defensive back Tyler Rutherford on the second-to-last play of the first half after Artesia’s Gabriel Rodriguez slammed him to the turf on a sack. Rutherford suffered a separated left shoulder and is expected to miss a couple of weeks.
The Rams (3-3), who dropped their third game in a row, forced a three-and-out on Artesia’s opening series. But the Bulldogs (5-2) also forced a three-and-out and took quick control when sophomore Scott Poe returned Chris Carter’s punt 60 yards for a touchdown.
“No doubt, I think that punt return was a big play,” Artesia coach Cooper Henderson said. “We just seemed to keep things rolling pretty well after that.”
Portales stopped the Bulldogs just one more time the rest of the half, and Artesia opened a 35-0 lead at the intermission on a 34-yard sweep for a touchdown by senior Nick Young — his only carry of the night — with just over two minutes left.
Henderson said the Bulldogs, mistake-prone in losing to Carlsbad and Las Cruces High the previous two weeks, simply executed a near-flawless game.
“We really felt like our team played well after a couple of losses,” he said. “We were throwing and catching the ball well tonight, after that first series.
“We didn’t have the penalties or turnovers tonight that can get you in trouble.”
Early, the Rams moved the ball reasonably well. They collected nine first downs and 118 yards before halftime, but couldn’t sustain drives the length of the field.
Artesia quarterbacks Jeremy Maupin and Denny Burnett combined to complete 11-of-18 passes for 199 yards, throwing to seven different receivers.
Carter led the Rams in rushing (80 yards on 19 carries) and receiving (six catches for 48 yards). Playing quarterback on PHS’ final series, he completed both of his passes to sophomore Cruz Ontiveros, including a 15-yard TD toss with 1:03 left, before running in the 2-point conversion.
In addition, Carter punted four times and kicked off twice.
Johnson said the Rams, who travel to Roswell High next week before beginning District 4-3A play at home against New Mexico Military on Oct. 22, played hard but will have to shake off the physical beating they took against a powerful opponent.
“They’re probably one of the best football teams in the state, it doesn’t matter what level they’re at,” Johnson said of Artesia. “We’ve got one more week before we go into district play. We need to be healthy and be able to execute the best we can.”
Artesia 55, Portales 8
Artesia 14 21 13 7 — 55
Portales 0 0 0 8 — 8
A — Scott Poe 60-yard punt return (Bradon Sanderson pass from Matt Moreno), 9:32
A — Poe 34-yard pass from Jeremy Maupin (kick failed), 3:11
A — Denny Burnett 2-yard run (Moreno kick), 9:45
A — Joe Duerksen 15-yard run (Moreno kick), 8:07
A — Nolan Young 34-yard run (Moreno kick), 2:09
A — Gabriel Rodriguez 35-yard fumble return (kick blocked), 10:10
A — Gentry Cauhape 6-yard run (Moreno kick), 4:54
A — Cauhape 20-yard run (Moreno kick), 7:59
P — Cruz Ontiveros 15-yard pass from Chris Carter (Carter run), 1:29
First downs 10 12
Rushes-yards 17-120 33-108
Yards passing 199 79
Total yards 319 187
Comp-att-int 11-18-0 10-27-3
Punting 2-39.0 5-34.6
Fumbles-lost 3-0 2-1
Penalties 4-35 4-27
RUSHING — Artesia, Cauhape 7-62, Young 1-34, Duerksen 3-20, Burnett 4-7, Maupin 2-minus 3. Portales, Carter 19-80, Tyler Rutherford 10-33, Mario Salazar 2-0, Eric Segovia 1-minus 2, Tyler Johnson 1-minus 3.
PASSING — Artesia, Maupin 6-10-0-153, Burnett 5-8-0-46. Portales, Rutherford 7-22-1-53, Salazar 1-3-2-minus 1, Carter 2-2-0-27.
RECEIVING — Artesia, Poe 2-65, Jamie Guthrie 2-46, Garrett Mossbarger 2-17, Henry Cardenas 1-28, Leon Stroman 1-17, David Adams 1-14, Luke Davis 1-6, Sanderson 1-6. Portales, Carter 6-48, Ontiveros 3-26, Salazar 1-5.