Home Sports Local Sports Roswell defense shuts Artesia down

Roswell defense shuts Artesia down

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Roswell’s Jasia Reese (2) celebrates with Joshua Castillo (74) after a touchdown Friday night at the Wool Bowl. (David Rocha Photo)

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For Roswell head coach Jeff Lynn, it’s been six years in the making. Six years of losing to Artesia, home and away. A controversial call in last year’s game gave the Coyotes a loss they would not soon forget. That loss catapulted Roswell into a championship team.

With Artesia coming to prove that last season’s victory by Roswell in the playoffs was a fluke — well, after Artesia came out of the locker room and did their customary dog pile, they were the ones dog-piled, to the tune of 48-28 Friday night at the Wool Bowl.

Roswell and Artesia had been averaging 55 points a game during the season. People questioned what Lynn was doing with his defense after losing 10 starters off of last year’s team. There were some growing pains but the players are starting to fit into their roles and make big plays.

“I was really proud of our defense,” Roswell coach Jeff Lynn said. “We gave up points in the first half, but they (Artesia) was having to work hard for those points. I go into halftime feeling really good about our defense.”

Roswell’s Talon Sanders (9) intercepts an Artesia pass Friday night at the Wool Bowl. (David Rocha Photo)

Players like defensive back Talon Sanders, who picked off the Bulldogs’ quarterback not once but three times — with the first coming at the goal line as Artesia was driving on their first possession of the game. Sanders baited Artesia quarterback Clay Houghtaling, who had a receiver open, but Sanders stepped in front of him at the goal line to stop the drive.

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For the first time this season Roswell trailed when Houghtaling scored on a quarterback sneak from the 1-yard line, with the PAT being good to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead with 5:42 in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Roswell drove the length of the field and handed the ball off to Jasia Reese, who scampered in from 29 yards out with Joel Sanchez adding the PAT to tie the game at 7-7 with 3:32 in the first quarter.

On Artesia’s third possession of the game, Freddie Anaya sacked Houghtaling for the first of his three sacks on the night. On the next play, Sanders once again intercepted the Bulldogs’ quarterback to give the ball back to Roswell. The Coyotes gave the ball to Joel “Mr. Everything” Sanchez and he scored on a 7-yard jet sweep with 1:15 left in the first quarter to make the score 14-7 Roswell.

Artesia managed to come back when Houghtaling scrambled on third down and nine to go for a touchdown. He was met at the goal line by a defender but managed to score to tie the game at 14-14 with 8:16 left in the second quarter. Roswell got the ball back and scored in less than a minute when Joel Renteria scored from 12 yards out to give the Coyotes a 21-14 lead before the half.

After another Sanders interception, Roswell was moving the ball and then was called for six penalties in eight plays, forcing them to punt. Artesia scored on a Houghtaling 30-yard touchdown pass to Erik Cueto with 1:25 left in the first half.

In a season where everything seems to be going Roswell’s way, Coyote quarterback Dominic Nava completed a pass to Sanchez to the Bulldogs’ 45-yard line. On the next play, he hit Sanchez again, down to the 39-yard line with 30 seconds left. Artesia was called for a penalty and with the ball on the Artesia 25 yard-line, Nava was rushed out of the pocket to his right, avoided a tackler and threw it into the end zone — into double coverage — and Sanchez grabbed the ball to score with 4.7 seconds to go in the half.

Roswell would miss the PAT but would lead 27-21.

“Our kids hustle and play every down,” Lynn said about his team scoring before the end of the half. “When you hustle good things happen.”

“We didn’t move the ball well enough on offense in the second half,” Artesia coach Rex Henderson said. “That turned the game, if we match them in scores we have a chance. We have to move the ball with more consistency.”

Artesia opened the second half with an onside kick as Roswell’s Zack Buckmister recovered and returned the ball to Artesia’s 40-yard line. Roswell would go on to score on the first two possessions of the second half to put the game away. The Bulldogs scored a meaningless touchdown after Roswell was up 48-20. Roswell’s defense shut the Bulldogs down in the second half.

“We don’t feel any pressure,” Lynn said. “Our kids are loose and having fun. I don’t feel it and the coaches don’t feel it, we just do what we do.”

Roswell has not lost a game in their last 13.

Roswell will be at home against Alamogordo at the Wool Bowl Friday at 7 p.m.

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.