BLACKWATER DRAW — From the score, it might look like the Portales Rams had things well under control Friday night.
Don’t believe it, coach Andy Correll said.
“That onside kick and the first play didn’t look like it, did it?” Correll said with a chuckle.
The Rams fell behind Albuquerque Academy 11 seconds into the game after a failed onside kick, but Lukas Pickard returned the ensuing kickoff 69 yards for a touchdown to make it 6-6 after only 22 seconds.
By the end of the first quarter, Portales had a 27-13 lead and was well on its way to a 60-20 victory over the Chargers.
The win means the Rams (6-3, 1-1 district) will host Ruidoso (5-4, 1-1) next week with second place in the district on the line. The Warriors dropped a 22-21 overtime decision to Lovington on Friday night, giving the Wildcats (6-3, 2-0) the 4-3A title.
Junior running back Jesus Davalos compiled 243 total yards and four touchdowns and senior quarterback Michael Trujillo threw for four TDs. Meantime, the Rams’ defense blanked Academy over the final 32 1/2 minutes.
“The past couple of games we hadn’t been playing with one heartbeat,” said senior middle linebacker Cody Creek, who had an interception and a fumble recovery. “Last night at our meeting, we said our main goal was to come together with one heartbeat.”
That goal was tested early. Kicker Junior Olivas’ onside kick traveled only three yards, and on the first play Chargers quarterback Kevin Clauss rifled a 43-yard TD pass to senior Jarred Border.
“We were going to blitz (Clauss) and send a message on the first play,” Creek said, “but it kind of backfired on us.”
No matter. Pickard scopped up a squib kick and quickly tied the score 6-6, and the Rams scored on their next four possessions to take control.
“We kept our composure,” said Correll, whose team lost 17-14 at Lovington in its district opener last week. “I was just glad we could bounce back from such a disappointing loss.”
Trujillo completed 18-of-25 passes for 255 yards, throwing for two scores to junior Shawn Carrasco and one each to Davalos and Brandon Adkins. Davalos also had touchdown runs of 54 and 22 yards, and finished with 159 yards on 11 carries.
“I think Mike did a good job of leading this offense tonight,” Correll said. “Last week, he tried to force too many things. Tonight, he tucked the ball (and ran) when he needed to and he threw it when he needed to.”
The Rams finished with 446 yards while holding the Chargers to 260, including 32 yards in the second half.
“We gave up a cheap (touchdown) early, but we settled down and played really good,” Correll said. “I thought our line and our linebackers played well in the second half.”
Border caught a second TD pass from Clauss in the first quarter, covering 21 yards, and finished with four catches for 113 yards.