When the Alamogordo Tigers entered the Wool Bowl Friday night, they looked a little less tame than when they left here Oct. 25 after a 55-24 drubbing at the hands of the Roswell Coyotes.
Headed into that late October contest, Roswell was undefeated and on top of the 5A football world — just as they are now. Alamogordo, by contrast, was struggling, and playing Roswell didn’t help.
But in the weeks after that contest, the Tigers notched a couple of impressive wins. They defeated Artesia, 28-22 on Nov. 1 — an outcome that surprised not just fans of the Bulldogs, but football watchers around southeast New Mexico. Then last week, in the opening round of the playoffs, Alamogordo won a squeaker against Santa Teresa, 27-26 — a victory that earned them a return trip to the Wool Bowl.
Waiting for them were the Coyotes, ranked first in the state in 5A, well-rested and prepared after earning a bye week in the tournament’s opening round. Roswell was anything but rusty. They put an end to the Tigers’ recent momentum, notching a 48-17 quarterfinal-round win.
The Coyotes picked up where they left off against the Tigers back in October, scoring early and layering on points to put the game out of reach.
Just over a minute into the game, a 9-yard touchdown run by Roderick Sedillo provided the Coyotes’ first points of the evening, making it 7-0, Roswell. Alamogordo answered back after the change of possession with a 43-yard field goal at the 4:04 mark of the first quarter, making it 7-3.
The Tigers would then attempt an onside kick — which the Coyotes recovered and returned 31 yards, setting themselves up with a short field. They’d capitalize: Sedillo found the end zone again to make it 14-3, Roswell, a score that would stand until the end of the first quarter.
After the Coyotes got the ball back, they treated fans to an example of the offensive resourcefulness that’s characterized their play all season long, making them so hard for opponents to slow down, much less stop. On third and eight near midfield, quarterback Dominic Nava danced around a collapsing pocket, avoiding oncoming pass-rushers before flinging the ball to Sedillo near the sideline for a first down.
On the next play, Nava ran the ball into the end zone for the Coyotes’ third touchdown, making it 21-3 with 7:22 left in the second quarter. Nava would add another rushing touchdown with 1:33 left in the half to extend the Coyotes’ lead to 28-3.
A Tigers rushing touchdown with just over a minute left in the second quarter narrowed the gap to 28-10 before the teams headed to the locker rooms for half time.
Roswell would add to their lead in the third. With 8:47 left in the quarter, Nava ran the ball into the end zone, making it 35-10.
To this point in the game, Roswell had possessed the ball five times — and scored on each possession.
But with just under three minutes to go in the third, the Alamogordo defense registered a pair of firsts — they landed a solid hit on Nava, sacking the Roswell quarterback for a big loss. And they turned that into a stop, forcing Roswell to punt.
The icing on the cake: The Tigers blocked the punt and returned it for a touchdown, making it 35-17.
Half the fourth quarter would tick off the clock before either team scored again. It was Roswell that found pay dirt, thanks to an Angel Cabellero rushing touchdown. After a missed extra point attempt, it was 41-17. The Roswell defense recovered a Tigers fumble with just over six minutes left in the game, setting up the contest’s final score, another Sedillo’s rushing touchdown at the 3:46 mark of the fourth.
Despite the lopsided final, Roswell head coach Jeff Lynn identified areas his team needs to work on as they continue their drive for another championship.
“We’ve got to play better,” Lynn said. “You can’t miss extra points, you can’t get punts blocked, you can’t give up onside kicks.
“We played good. Offensively we played well, defensively … But we’ve got to play better. We’ve got to play better in all three phases — and we will. We’ll play better moving forward.”
Roswell, now 11-0, advances to next week’s semifinal round of the playoffs, where they’ll face the winner of the quarterfinal match-up between Deming and Farmington, which is taking place today at 1 p.m.