The Colt football team got their first win of the season, upending the visiting Loving Falcons, 15-6.
As the low score indicates, this game was a defensive battle, with wet weather conditions and a soggy natural turf field making drives difficult for both offensive units.
NMMI’s offense was the first to put points on the board, but not until the 3:29 mark in the second quarter. Junior Claudio Cuen made good on a 30-yard field goal, capping a drive that started on the Colts’ own 19 and spanned 20 plays and lasted over 8 minutes.
On the Falcons’ ensuing possession – their first of the second quarter – NMMI’s defense put two more points on the board with a safety, thanks to a pair of tackles for losses. The first was by sophomore linebacker Arturo Cuen for a nine-yard loss, pinning Loving back at the three. On the next play, the entire NMMI defensive front got through, sacking Falcon quarterback Kevin Martinez in the end zone.
Neither team was able to score in the third, but a Colt fumble early in the fourth gave Loving the ball 1st & 10 on the NMMI 26. The Falcons needed just 3 plays to get past the goal line, Brandon Rainey rushing in for the 14-yard touchdown with 9:44 left. The PAT rush attempt failed, making the score 6-5 in favor of the Falcons.
NMMI was forced to punt on their next possession, but again the Colt defense bowed up, forcing and recovering a fumble at the Loving 23 with 4:58 left on the clock. After stalling out on the Loving 15, coach Randy Montoya again sent in the field goal unit. Despite a low snap, Cuen again split the uprights, this time from 32-yards out, giving NMMI an 8-6 lead with 3:20 remaining.
Great job by Claudio Cuen all the way around,” said coach Montoya. “Not sure how we got off that second field goal – it wasn’t a pretty snap at all, but somehow St. John got it down and Cuen punched it through.”
Senior cornerback Connor Roe then picked off a pass to stop Loving’s next possession. The NMMI offense then ran off another minute and 52 seconds off the clock, but was forced to punt, giving Loving a final chance to with 55 seconds, 1 & 10 from their own 22.
Junior safety Frank Matheson put the game away for good, intercepting the ball on the very next play, returning it for the 30-yard touchdown.
“Our defense has been our backbone all year long, and they came up big tonight when we needed them,” said Montoya. “Nine of the points we scored tonight came from our defense. I’m just proud of the team – we’ve been fighting hard all year and this win is a huge morale booster for us, especially with district coming up next week.”
That district schedule begins with Ruidoso at home next week; kickoff at 7:00 PM on Friday, Oct. 6. It will be the first district game for both teams. The Colts will go into the contest with a 1-5 overall record; the Warriors with a 4-2 overall record.