Home Sports Local Sports Goddard’s defense hotter than the weather

Goddard’s defense hotter than the weather

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Goddard’s Ryan Lee rushes for a first down against St. Pius X on Saturday. (Angela Greene Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

The only thing hotter than the oppressively hot 96 degrees at Nusenda Community Stadium was the temperature of the Goddard defense.

With a stout defensive line and the angry mood that defensive tackle Larry Luna and his fellow linemen were in as they hit the St. Pius X ballcarriers and quarterback, it’s no wonder everyone on Big Blue’s defense wanted a turn at knocking out a player in a black and yellow jersey.

St. Pius X was driving the ball in their opening series of the second half. Goddard senior Ray Downs hit the Sartans’ starting quarterback, Derek Rivera, so hard that Rivera bounced off of him, twirled and was knocked out by Hunter Beene.

The game was stopped and the Sartans had to bring in backup quarterback Cian Jones.

Goddard’s defense was so stingy they forced St. Pius X into two interceptions and a fumble en route to a 21-0 victory on Saturday.

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It didn’t take Goddard long to get the party started as they received the kickoff. Goddard’s Connor Villalpando took the opening kickoff to the house, breaking multiple tackles to score on a 91-yard touchdown for the first points of Goddard’s season with 11:44 in the first quarter.

Both teams were turnover-prone in the first quarter as Goddard threw an interception to St. Pius X. It was a defensive battle in the first as Goddard had 13 yards of total offense in the quarter, and the Sartans only had 30 yards.

On defense, the Rockets turned it up with a dominating defensive line as Micah Cheatem hit Sartans running back Marco Ybarra with such force he fumbled. The Rockets recovered the ball at the 40-yard line of St. Pius X. For the game, St. Pius X could only muster 31 yards rushing on 31 carries for a 1-yard average.

Coming into the game, Goddard’s main focus was to stop the talented receiver, Isaiah Griffin. They did, partially, shutting him out most of the game. Griffin managed to catch a couple of 20-yard passes at the end of the game to make his statistics look better than he played. Griffin managed eight catches for 115 yards and was the only offense for St. Pius X.

Defensively for the Rockets, Sammy Zaragoza put pressure on the Sartans’ quarterback, forcing a bad throw that was intercepted by Marco Hernandez to stop a drive. Nate Stone also had an interception to stop a drive deep in Goddard territory in the fourth quarter.

Zaragoza was all over the field and a tackling machine on defense. He was even better on offense when, with four minutes left in the game, he took the ball 67 yards to put the game out of reach. On offense, he ran for 152 yards on 13 carries with 111 coming in the second half.

Goddard had two turnovers in the game and they will have to work on their passing game. They were just physically overpowering, both O and D lines, against St. Pius, on defense they were getting push up the middle and pushing the Sartans’ offensive lines into the backfield, nullifying their running and passing games.

“Tough, any game with Goddard is tough,” St. Pius X head coach David Montoya said. “They were just a little better than us today. We were just a couple of plays away, we’ll get there. Zaragoza is a good back, he runs hard, the quarterback runs hard and the fullback runs hard. … Those kids are hard-nosed kids. We had three chances to score and couldn’t get points.”

Goddard will return home to the friendly confines of the Wool Bowl next, as they take on Carlsbad. Fans might remember there wasn’t a resolution to the game last year because it was called on account of lightning. Goddard hosts Carlsbad at 7 p.m. Friday.

Score by Quarters:

Goddard: 7, 7, 0, 7 – 21

St. Pius: 0, 0, 0, 0 – 0

Goddard Scoring: Connor Villalpando, 91-yard kickoff return (Jacob Wieser kick); Robert Aragon 1-yard run (Wieser kick); Sammy Zaragoza, 67-yard run (Wieser kick).