Goddard senior tailback Diego Miranda scored two touchdowns and again displayed his explosive open-field speed, carrying the Rockets back over the .500 mark with a 30-14 win Friday night at the Wool Bowl in a game that was not as close as the score indicated.
“They’re a good team,” Miranda said. “We just worked a little bit harder than them.”
Miranda, who ran for a 90-yard touchdown two weeks ago at the Wool Bowl, had a 60-yard touchdown Friday against Deming, going over 1,000 yards rushing on the season, making his stake as perhaps the best running back in Chaves County.
“He’s a talented kid that’s a wide receiver that’s just doing what his team needs him to do,” said Goddard head coach Chris White. “He’s just steadily got better and better and better and better and more physical and more physical. That’s who we are. He’s never had to do that before. He’s probably a kid that’s going to go to college to be a wide receiver, to be honest with you, because he has incredible skills as a receiver. But right now, we need a running back, and man, look at him go. That’s all you could ask for in a senior leader, do what we ask to do, just be unselfish.”
Miranda, who injured his ankle Sept. 8 playing Carlsbad, sat out much of fourth quarter of Friday’s game as a precaution after he suffered a recurrent injury to his ankle on a horse collar tackle penalty that did not sit well with Goddard fans.
“He’s just gimpy on an ankle,” White said. “You never get completely healed in a football season. I wasn’t real happy about the tackling up high around the head and that’s what happens. Anyways, that’s part of football. It happens.”
Miranda said he expects to be back in the lineup when Goddard plays at Lovington on Oct. 20, after a bye week. White said he anticipates starting junior quarterback Dalton Bowles will also be back taking snaps when the Rockets take on Lovington.
Miranda, who ran for over 150 yards Friday night, acknowledged defenses are keying on him this season.
“Yeah, it makes it kind of tougher, but we’ve just to keep doing what we’re doing, just keep moving the ball,” Miranda said.
The Wildcats got on top first, putting together a 64-yard touchdown drive on their opening possession. On third and goal at the Rocket 3-yard line, Deming senior running back Trini Garcia II broke a tackle on an option play and waltzed into the end zone to make it 6-0 Deming with 6:10 left in the first quarter.
“They’re real organized with their offense, big offensive tackles,” White said. “You see that (Garcia) is a load, carrying the ball quick as a cat. I thought they were a real well-coached team. I thought they played real hard and I thought our kids responded well under pressure there in the first half and really executed some things well.”
The Goddard offense got off to a slow start as the Rockets had a three-and-out and punted on their first possession.
Deming looked to be in control, putting together another long drive, thanks to a big offsides penalty by the Rockets that gave the Wildcats a first down on fourth down. But, later in the drive, on fourth and goal at the Goddard 10, the Rocket defense broke up a pass to regain control of the football as the first quarter came to a close.
Goddard then put together a 90-yard touchdown drive that changed the momentum of the game.
A QB keeper on fourth down by sophomore Robert Aragon kept the drive alive. A 15-yard run by Aragon and 15-yard rush by Miranda pushed the Rockets deep into Deming territory.
“I feel like I did pretty good, but I can still do better,” Aragon said, adding he’s settling in at the QB position. “It was good, but we should work harder every week like we do.”
“He’s played quarterback with the flu, with a bad ankle, with everything in the world, and he’s dragging a leg around out there running the offense with a freshman to back him up,” White said of Aragon. “It shows the kids have a lot of character and it shows we’ve got a good crew coming in the future.”
On first and goal at the 1, Rocket senior Tyler Hoover made his way into the end zone to knot the score at 6-6. The successful extra point by sophomore J.P. Wieser put the Rockets on top 7-6, a lead they would not relinquish.
The Goddard defense then forced Deming to punt, as the Rockets took over near midfield and again drove deep into Deming territory.
On first and goal at the 3, Aragon pitched the rock to Miranda, who broke a tackle for his first touchdown of the night, making it 13-6 Rockets with 17 seconds left in first half. The extra point made it 14-6 heading into halftime.
On the first play of the second half, after receiving the kickoff, the Rockets took over at their own 40-yard line. Miranda took the fist snap of the second half to the left side, broke a tackle at the Deming 40-yard line, and raced the rest of the way to the end zone to make it 20-6 Goddard. The extra point kick by Wieser made it 21-6.
The Rockets scored again later in the third quarter, thanks to a big run by Miranda, who broke three tackles for a 40-yard gain.
After failing to punch the ball in the end zone, White elected to kick on fourth and 10 at the 24-yard line. Wieser split the uprights on the 34-yard field goal attempt to make it 24-6 Rockets as the third quarter ended.
White said having a weapon like Wieser gives Goddard an added threat.
“He’s a dandy, too,” White said. “He’s doing a nice job.”
Another costly penalty by the Rockets negated a touchdown and prevented Goddard from putting the game away early in the fourth quarter, when Rocket sophomore Rion Lee took the punt, broke a tackle, and ran 67 yards into the end zone. However, the big return was negated by a blocking penalty.
Miranda was taken out of the game later in the fourth quarter when a Deming defender brought him down from behind on the horse collar tackle.
Deming put together another impressive drive midway through the fourth quarter, thanks to a 43-yard run by Garcia, who was only brought down thanks to the speed of Lee, who caught up to Garcia from behind.
On third and 10 at the Goddard 17, Deming junior quarterback Daniel Garcia connected in the end zone with sophomore Aaron Alvarado to make it 24-12 Goddard with 3:50 to go. The Wildcats executed a tricky swing gate play on the two-point conversion, as Trini Garcia took the snap and passed to senior Abel Chavez, who was wide open in the end zone, making it 24-14 Rockets.
After recovering the onside kick, Goddard scored again after taking over near midfield.
On second and 9 at the Deming 27, senior Tyler Hoover scored his second rushing touchdown of the night, making it 30-14.
“He’s kind of an unsung hero,” White said of Hoover, who often blocks for Miranda.
The extra point kick bounced off the left upright and off the crossbar and was unsuccessful.
Deming drove again on its final drive, but the Wildcats were stopped on fourth down at the Goddard 10-yard line when Daniel Garcia was sacked, ending the game as Goddard improved to 4-3 after a three-game losing streak early in the season.
“The boys got our head above water finally,” White said. “So good for them, because that speaks volumes to their character. We’ve just got to keep improving.”
Deming dropped to 3-4.
“I thought the kids responded real well,” White said. “We knew coming in Deming was going to be a real scrappy team. They had played Belen and Artesia in back-to-back weeks and ran the ball real well against both of those teams. I think they’re still going to make some noise in their district. It could be a big win for us down the road if they could go on and win that district.”
White said he expects Miranda back on the field in two weeks.
“Normally, I don’t like an off-week, but this year, I’m going to have to say I don’t think it can hurt at this point,” White said. “Anyway, the off-week is coming, and kind of at a good time for us.”