Big defensive stops at crunch time, minimal penalties and long touchdown rushes from an array of weapons lifted the Coyotes to a 48-12 must-win over the Lovington Wildcats Friday night at the Wool Bowl.
The win improves the Coyotes’ district record to 1-1, 6-3 overall, as Roswell heads into next week’s crosstown, regular-season finale against Goddard. Friday’s win follows Roswell’s 42-7 home loss to Artesia last week.
“I thought the kids had a great weak of preparation,” said Coyote head coach Jeff Lynn. “I thought we rebounded from last week’s loss to Artesia. We just had a good week of preparation. I think the kids were locked in and just went out and executed what we asked them to execute tonight.”
Roswell played Friday night without senior standout Gabe Najar, who did not dress for the game, but supported his teammates from the sidelines.
“He’s just a little banged up. We felt like we needed to sit him,” Lynn said, adding he expects Najar to return to the lineup next week against Goddard. “He should be back in the near future. Nothing serious, he’ll be back.”
Playing for the first time this season was senior Alfonso Sanchez, who filled in at fullback for Najar, and scored the last two of Roswell’s seven rushing touchdowns Friday night.
“He’s a kid that’s been in our program. He’s had kind of a rough year here,” Lynn said of Sanchez. “That’s what football is all about, you get a kid who kind of had a rough year, got his life back together, and went out tonight and had some success. That was great to see Alfonso have some success.”
The Coyotes got on top early on their first possession after starting quarterback, senior Daniel Sosa, kept the rock on a QB keeper and cut through the heart of the Wildcat defense and ran upfield with his head held high before he was tripped up at the Lovington 10-yard line after a 55-yard gain, the first on several big runs on the night for Roswell.
On the next play, Fiddy Gomez took the snap, fought off some tackles, and struck pay dirt for Roswell’s first rushing TD of the game. The extra point made it 7-0.
Lovington drove the ball on its first possession, but the Wildcats came up short on a fourth and goal at the Coyote 10-yard line, when the Coyote defense swarmed Wildcat receiver Jorge Carrasaco for a turnover on downs.
Utilizing a shotgun formation most of the night with a heavy emphasis on the passing game, Lovington drove deep into Roswell territory on the Wildcats’ second possession. But again, the Roswell defense stood firm and stopped Lovington on a fourth and 11 at the Coyote 14-yard line, forcing another turnover on downs.
“They big-played us a little bit, they got down in the red zone and we were able to hold them,” Lynn said. “I thought our defensive line, I thought the whole defense, played well tonight. The fourth-down plays in the first half were huge, no doubt.”
The momentum began to sway toward the Coyotes, who took advantage of the fourth-down stop and drove into Lovington territory, thanks to a great catch by senior Elijah Baca, who elevated to bring down a 25-yard pass reception from Roswell’s other quarterback, senior Michael Ponce.
Lynn said he plans to continue mixing things up at quarterback.
“They both have strengths and they both have weaknesses, so we’ll play to their strengths and try to do away with their weaknesses,” Lynn said.
The drive continued into the second quarter, when on the first play of the second frame, Coyote junior Justin Carrasco took the ball up the middle, broke several tackles, and scored from 25 yards out with 11:53 left in the second quarter. The extra point made it 14-0 Roswell.
After forcing Lovington to punt, a punt that rolled to the Roswell 1-yard line, the Coyotes put together a 99-yard touchdown drive. Sanchez — built in the image of the legendary “Fridge,” William Perry, the NFL nose tackle turned part-time fullback — had his first carries of the season.
On fourth and 7, Coyote junior Dylan Tucker took the ball on a reverse and ran up the right side for a 17-yard touchdown that made it 20-0 with 3:47 left in the second quarter. The extra point was barely good, but good enough to make it 21-0.
Lovington got on the board early in the third quarter.
Starting a drive at the Roswell 40-yard line, Lovington junior running back Kyle Carter found a big hole on the right side for a 41-yard touchdown rush to make it 21-6 with 11:06 left in the third quarter. The extra point kick bounced off the right upright and was no good.
The Wildcats soon recovered a Roswell fumble at the Coyote 31-yard line, as the momentum seemed to shift in favor of the Wildcats early in the second half. But the Coyote defense again came up big, ending the Lovington drive after a big sack of Wildcat sophomore quarterback Casey Perez by Coyote defensive tackle Christian Chavez.
After taking over at their own 33-yard line, Coyote senior running back Brandon Perez ran to the left side for a 70-yard touchdown carry that made it 27-6 with 6:26 left in the third quarter. Roswell went for the two-point conversion, but failed.
The Coyotes continued to level big sticks on defense, but the Wildcats were able to put together a 66-yard touchdown drive, capped by a 7-yard pass from Casey Perez to Jorge Carrasaco that made it 27-12 with 1:59 left in the third quarter. The Coyotes blocked the extra point kick.
Roswell put the game away in the fourth quarter, with three more touchdowns.
Early in the fourth quarter, Coyote sophomore Jasia Reese took the ball over the left guard and ran into traffic. Reese broke out of the pack and ran to the right side, out-running everybody as he turned on the afterburners in the open field for a 52-yard touchdown run that made it 33-12 with 11:07 left in the game. The extra point made it 34-12.
After forcing another turnover on downs, the Coyotes took over near midfield and put together a bruising drive, utilizing several rushers.
On first and goal at the Wildcat 3-yard line, Sanchez scored his first touchdown of the season, bowling into the end zone over the right guard, to make it 40-12 with 5:10 to go. The extra point made it 41-12.
After the solid Coyote defense forced another turnover on downs, Roswell took over near midfield with 3:02 left to play.
On third and 3, Sanchez ran up the middle, broke a tackle and showed some surprising speed on a 40-yard touchdown run that made it 47-12. The successful extra point kick arrived at the final score of 48-12.
Lynn said Lovington played well.
“Give Lovington a lot of credit,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of athletes over there and they’ve got good team speed.”
The Wildcats fall to 5-4 overall, 1-1 in district play, and face Artesia next week in their regular-season finale.
Lynn said the Coyotes are excited about the annual grudge match next week against Goddard, who lost to Artesia 56-12 Friday night in Artesia.
Roswell beat Goddard 22-14 last season. Roswell leads the all-time series against Goddard 33-21, with three ties.
“Our focus was Lovington this week,” Lynn said. “I haven’t watched a whole lot of film on (Goddard). We’ll get in there (Saturday) morning and get after it. It’s a rubber game, so it will be tough.”