Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
The visiting Santa Fe Demon defense saw a lot of the back of Diego Miranda’s jersey Friday night, as the explosive open-field speed of the Rocket senior running back led Goddard to a 28-0 win at the Wool Bowl.
Miranda ran for three touchdowns, and had another rushing TD called back because of a penalty, after coming back from an ankle injury in a heartbreaking loss two weeks against Carlsbad.
“It’s really just about the linemen getting their blocks, so I can’t really say it was all me,” Miranda said.
The Rocket defense set the tone of the game early on the Demons’ first possession. On their third offensive play, Santa Fe senior quarterback Zach Russell threw over the middle. Rocket senior Tyler Hoover picked off the pass near midfield and ran it all the way in for a Pick 6.
“He’s a kid that started the year out at corner, and through attrition is playing mid linebacker,” said Goddard head coach Chris White. “He’s about as tough a kid as you’re gong to find.”
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The successful extra point kick made it 7-0 Goddard with 10:43 left in the first quarter.
On their ensuing possession, Santa Fe managed to pick up a couple first downs as the Demons drove into Goddard territory. But on second and 4 from the Rocket 30-yard line, Goddard junior Seth Diaz picked off another pass from Russell, setting the Rockets up near midfield.
White said the Rocket defense played aggressively and tackled well in Friday’s shutout, reversing a shutout on the road against Clovis last week.
“I thought the kids played real well defensively and did a good job recognizing some of other things that we had going,” White said. “So I was real proud of the way the defense played.”
On first and 10 at the Demon 18-yard line, sophomore Robert Aragon, playing quarterback for injured junior QB Dalton Bowles, pitched to Miranda, who ran to the left side. Miranda cut back, eluding defenders, and went to the outside where he lunged into the end zone near the pylon to make it 13-0 Rockets with 5:34 left in the opening frame.
The extra point kick from sophomore Jacob Weiser, who has been a consistent kicker this year often splitting the uprights, made it 14-0 Rockets.
Early in the second quarter, it looked like the Rockets might put the game away early when Aragon ran for 56 yards on a QB keeper. But the play was called back for holding against Goddard, the first of several big plays Friday night negated by Rocket penalties.
“We need to clean up the penalties for sure, that hurts,” White said.
Later in the second quarter, Miranda displayed his open-field speed, when on first and 10, Miranda took the pitch to the left side, broke into the open field at about the 40-yard line, and outran the Demon defense the rest of the way for a 90-yard touchdown run that made it 20-0 Goddard. The extra point kick was blocked by Santa Fe.
Miranda said when he got into the open field, he “just keep running.”
“There were some plays were he just ran by the defense,” White said. “And then there were several times that he kind of missed his cut, missed his hole. But you know he’s been out for two weeks. We’re a little rusty for sure, battling the flu bug and everything else. It’s been one of those years, but we’re going to get healthy in time to get the train on the tracks, so to speak, and I think we’ll be OK.”
White said Miranda is still learning the running back position.
“I just made a tailback out of him at the end of the summer,” White said. “We had another kid and he’s out, and I took him and put him into it. If (Miranda) ever learns to find his cut, he’s going to be the real deal. But he still is working on his vision. It just takes repetitions.”
White said Miranda has a big-gain mentality when he’s running the football.
“He’s explosive for sure, and he’s got some big cats in front of him opening up holes,” White said. “We’ll get there when we get Bowles and those guys back and we’ll get going.”
White said Bowles, injured in the 19-18 home loss to Carlsbad two weeks ago, remains questionable next week.
Miranda, who lowered his shoulder pads on several carries Friday to take it to defenders, said his style isn’t to try and bowl over tacklers, but to elude and outrun them.
“I just try and get some more yards and try not to go out of bounds,” Miranda said.
Late in the second quarter, Goddard sophomore Rion Lee picked off what would have been the third interception for the Rockets Friday, but another penalty negated a big Rocket play. The Rockets threatened to score again in the final minutes of the second quarter, but Aragon’s pass to the end zone was knocked down to end the first half.
Santa Fe turned the ball over again on a fumble midway through the third quarter.
Perhaps the best running play of the night occurred on Goddard’s next play, when Miranda took the football up the middle, and cut to his left, breaking tackles and scampering down the sideline for an other apparent rushing TD. However, the play was called back because of holding on Goddard.
“They happen in games, you’ve just got to go to the next play,” Miranda said of penalties. “That’s just part of the game.”
Miranda and Hoover plowed ahead for Goddard first downs as the Rockets drove into Demon territory.
On first and 10 from the Demon 35-yard line, Miranda ran to left side and again outran the Demon defense, going untouched into the end zone for his third rushing touchdown of the night, which made it 26-0 Goddard with 5:11 left in the third quarter.
“I think we ran OK. I don’t think we ran great at all, White said, adding Miranda’s twisted ankle is a difficult injury from which to recover, particularly playing on artificial turf. “When you’re a runner and you run as much as we do, it’s kind of tough to make it on one tire.”
After a roughing the kicker penalty on Santa Fe, Goddard elected to go for the two-point conversion.
Miranda took the pitch to the left side and outran the defender to make it 28-0 Rockets.
Neither team managed to put points on the board in the remainder of the game, although Goddard threatened late in the fourth quarter. On fourth and goal and just inches outside the end zone, the Demon defense stopped Rocket senior Jeriid Zumwalt in the backfield to force a turnover on downs.
The Rockets employed their second string in the fourth quarter, including moving senior Sam Ramirez to the backfield.
“He plays corner, he plays receiver. He’s our go-to receiver, he’s our tailback,” White said of Ramirez. “He does a little bit of everything and there’s not a bigger underdog in the state or a guy with a bigger heart.”
Ramirez said the Rocket defense is pivotal to their success this season.
“It’s very important, because without it, we couldn’t do anything,” Ramirez said. “We did a good job. It was great, we worked together. I think we could have won with a little bit more, but it’s just execution. We’re going to work on it. I think we can make it.”
The Rockets improve to 2-3, ending a three-game losing streak, before facing Alamogordo on the road next week. Santa Fe dropped to 0-5.