Home Sports Local Sports Los Lunas defeats Goddard, 35-14

Los Lunas defeats Goddard, 35-14

Football is a game of inches. The referees called first down for Los Lunas on this call which helped end Goddard’s hope for winning. Los Lunas would win 35-14 at the Wool Bowl Saturday. (Steve Notz Photo)

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There will not be an all-Roswell match-up in the 5A football state championship game.

Goddard running back Rion Lee (27) runs the ball for a big gain against Los Lunas Saturday at the Wool Bowl. (Shawn Naranjo Photo)

The final piece of that puzzle failed to fall into place Saturday, as the Los Lunas Tigers defeated the Goddard Rockets, 35-14 in an afternoon semifinal-round contest at the Wool Bowl.

The Roswell Coyotes had already punched their ticket to the state title game, having trounced their semifinal opponent, the Deming Wildcats, 49-12 Friday night in Roswell.

But for the second year in a row, Los Lunas took on the role of spoiler for Goddard, and for local football fans hoping to see the Rockets-Coyotes crosstown rivalry play out on a championship stage. Goddard also lost to the Tigers in the 2018 semifinals, 41-20.

After Saturday’s contest, Rockets head coach Chris White gathered his players and “talked about how much effort it takes to get to this point,” he said. “Our kids are winners — when you go and fight your heart out and work this hard for something that’s bigger than you … we have nothing to hang our heads about.

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“Los Lunas was a better team today, well-coached team and good luck to them, outstanding job on their part.”

Goddard last week won a defensive struggle against Piedra Vista, 20-10, to earn their way into the playoffs’ semifinal round. Los Lunas, meanwhile, came in riding a wave of offensive momentum after crushing Artesia last week, 58-21. Unfortunately for the Rockets, the Tigers’ offense continued its roll.

The Rockets spent much of last week’s quarterfinal-round game against Piedra Vista trading turnovers with their opponent. Saturday’s game, in the early going, picked up right where that one left off.

On Los Lunas’ second play from scrimmage, the Tigers’ quarterback tossed an interception to the Rockets’ Rion Lee, giving Goddard a first and 10 on their own 22. But a Rockets fumble would give the ball back to the Tigers.

Los Lunas took advantage of the opportunity, driving downfield and scoring the game’s first points with a 29-yard touchdown pass at the 7:13 mark of the first quarter, making it 7-0, Los Lunas.

With 4:51 left in the first, Sammy Zaragoza rambled into the end zone for a touchdown to narrow the gap. But Goddard’s two-point conversion attempt came up short, leaving Los Lunas with the lead, 7-6.

Los Lunas drove deep into Goddard territory with just over 11 minutes left in the second, but the Rockets’ defense came up big, forcing the Tigers into a fourth and goal from the 15 and then registering a sack when Los Lunas went for it.

The Rockets took over on their own 12, but a Goddard interception a few plays later gave the ball back to Los Lunas on the Goddard 23 — and this time, the Tigers would make the most of the field position. A rushing touchdown with 7:36 left in the half gave Los Lunas a 14-6 lead.

On their next possession, the Rockets drove downfield and evened the score as Robert Aragon found Lee in the end zone for a touchdown pass, making it 14-14 — after a successful two-point attempt — with 4:16 left in the half.

Los Lunas threatened late in the quarter but Goddard’s James Torrez picked off a pass at the goal line to kill the Tigers’ drive. The half would end with the score still knotted, 14-14.

The second half was all Los Lunas.

The Tigers would score twice, unanswered, in the third quarter — on a touchdown run at the 6:16 mark and another TD scamper at the 1:26 mark — to build a 28-14 lead headed in the fourth.

A Los Lunas touchdown pass with 8:13 remaining in the game ran their lead to 35-14, the final.

“The boys fought tooth and nail,” White said. “Tie game at halftime, and hey, they just came out and outperformed us. That’s what a head coach does.

“My boys, every single week, give me all they’ve got. I just told the seniors, how many days that those guys made my day. … They’re a real fine group of young men.”

Los Lunas will host the Coyotes next Saturday, Nov. 30 at 2 p.m. in the state championship game.

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