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Top ranked Rockets win on the road

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It had been a few weeks since the Goddard Rockets hit the road.

Prior to their Friday night contest at Santa Teresa, the Rockets continued racking up wins during a three-week homestand — with the most recent victory coming against Lovington last week at the Wool Bowl, 49-28.

There was an extra bit of satisfaction following that contest, as the win propelled Goddard to a number one ranking in New Mexico Class 5A by MaxPreps.com, the first time the Rockets have held the top spot this season.

One could speculate that this ascension to number one was even sweeter than it might normally be, given that Goddard leap-frogged the crosstown rival Roswell Coyotes to get there.

Roswell had been number one — with Goddard ranked second — the week before. Roswell fell to second in the rankings this past week.

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Who knows how the rankings will shake out in the days ahead, but Goddard certainly made its case to stay on top, winning 22-8 Friday night in Santa Teresa to improve to 6-0-1. The comforts of home may be overrated.

During that three-game home-stand leading up to Friday night, the Rockets continued to play a hard-nosed, old-school brand of football: relentless offense and stout, take-no-prisoners defense. It’s been their formula for success all year, and led them to victories over Portales (28-0), Los Lunas (28-27, in an absolute thriller) and then last week Lovington.

Santa Teresa, meanwhile, came into Friday’s game against the Rockets looking pretty respectable themselves, at 6-0 and ranked sixth in 5A. The Desert Warriors’ most recent wins came against Horizon (El Paso, Texas) last week, and the week prior against Valencia, who they beat 14-7. They also defeated Alamogordo 36-13.

Put simply, neither team had been on the wrong side of the scoreboard anytime recently, but something had to give.

The Rockets kicked off to the Desert Warriors to start Friday’s game, but would quickly find themselves on offense after forcing a punt. Taking over on their own 15, Goddard wasted no time in putting points on the board as Robert Aragon broke an 83-yard run for a touchdown, making the score 7-0 Goddard after the extra point — 8:10 remained in the first quarter.

Unlike some of the Rockets’ opponents so far this season, Santa Teresa answered right back. Behind the running of the elusive and speedy Adrian Saenz, the Desert Warriors responded in a hurry, finding the end zone and tacking on a two-point conversion for good measure, leaving the score Santa Teresa 8, Goddard 7 with 3:45 remaining in the first.

The rain in Santa Teresa was coming down in sheets at this point, but the teams soldiered on.

In the second quarter, Goddard would score again on a 1-yard (less than that really) quarterback sneak by Dalton Bowles, making it Goddard 14, Santa Teresa 7 with 8:14 left until halftime.

Santa Teresa’s next possession ended in a punt, and afterward Goddard looked to be mounting a scoring drive to end the half. But the Rockets turned the ball over, giving the Desert Warriors a little life.

Santa Teresa again looked to pull even — and who knows? They might’ve done it, if not for some timely defense on the part of the Rockets.

With five seconds left in the half, Santa Teresa found themselves on the Goddard 34 with time left for one play — a heave into the end zone. But as the home team’s quarterback scrambled in the backfield for time, the Rockets’ Hunter Beene caught up to him and registered a sack, ending the half with the score still 14-7 Goddard.

The third quarter was uneventful from a scoring standpoint until the very, very end. As the final seconds of the quarter were ticking off the clock, Bowles hit Jonah Chavez with a touchdown pass, making the score, after a missed extra point, 20-8 in the Rockets’ favor. Goddard would register a safety with 1:55 left in the game, making the score 22-8. That wound up being the final.

Rockets Head Coach Chris White said after the game that tough defense was especially important given how much rain fell during the contest.

“We had to swim up river, I can tell you that,” he said. “It was raining cats and dogs. It was one of those old school … just running, smashing through puddles down the field.

“It was one of those games, if you got in a long yardage situation, you’re kind of getting in trouble because it’s going to be hard to throw it. It was a challenge just taking snaps in the shotgun.

“The kids played lockdown defense and that’s what you have to do on a night like this.”

The Rockets will host Alamogordo on Oct. 19. Next week, Santa Teresa will travel to Deming.