Home Sports Local Sports Goddard second-half rally comes up short in loss

Goddard second-half rally comes up short in loss

Goddard’s Sammy Zaragoza (9) takes on two Rio Rancho defenders Saturday at the Wool Bowl. (Steve Notz Photo)

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It took a while for Goddard to realize they were in a football game with 6A Rio Rancho. Goddard was held scoreless for three quarters, before putting on a furious rally by playing Goddard football. Goddard spotted Rio Rancho a 21-point lead and it looked like it might be a running clock. Goddard’s defense stiffened, got stops, and was helped by the opportunistic Rockets’ defensive back Jeremy Hicks who had two interceptions to stop the Rams’ scoring drives.

The Rockets had several bad quarterback-center exchanges that hurt them. Goddard threw three interceptions on the game and still managed to make it a one-possession game with less than 2:56 to play. Goddard started their comeback too late and could not stop the Rams when they needed to as they lost to Rio Rancho 35-20 at the Wool Bowl Saturday.

“We made a lot of mistakes in the first half against a good football team,” Goddard coach Chris White said. “I was sure proud of our kids’ efforts and the fight they had, but you know, against a good team, you’re shooting yourself in the foot too much to win. I still thought our kids fought really hard there.”

One of the keys to the game, besides the errors, was that Goddard could not stop Rams’ running back Zach Vigil who scored all three of their touchdowns in the first half as they took a 21-0 lead into the locker room.

For the Goddard football seniors, this will be a year they will remember. They put on a rally that seemed to scare Rio Rancho. Scoreless through the first three quarters, Goddard scored on a 2-yard touchdown by Micah Cheatem, with PAT being good. The score came with 11:42 to play in the game.

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Goddard seemed to have the momentum, but on the following kickoff, the Rams’ Tommy Lujan returned the kickoff 75 yards for a TD with 11:42 to play in the game. Goddard quarterback Elijah Quiroz made several big runs and throws as he hit Nate Stone for a couple of big gains to keep the drives moving.

Goddard was not finished as senior Sammy Zaragoza finished out an outstanding career with several hard hits on defense and ran hard all game long, even running over several Ram defenders during the game. Zaragoza had a 15-yard run to the Rams’ 23-yard line before on the next play, swift and silent sophomore Javyn Morales cut back against the grain to score a TD with 9:18 to play in the game and make the score 28-14.

For the rest of the fourth quarter, Goddard coach Chris White would not abandon the run, and eventually, it started to wear the Rams’ defense down. Both teams exchanged possessions a couple of times, then Goddard drove the length of the field taking time off the clock, and scored on another Morales 9-yard TD run with 2:54 to play in the game.

“Of course Rio Rancho has a good football team,” White said, “they played for 6A state championship last year. It’s not like we played terribly, but we just didn’t play good enough to beat a team of that caliber.”

Goddard did everything possible to get the ball back, but on the next possession, Rams’ running back Vigil scored his fourth TD on the day on a 32-yard scamper up the middle with 1:28 to play in the game.

With the season just ending, the teams have to be grateful for the chance to play football when it looked like there might not be a season. All of the teams went Bowling this season, yet Roswell and Goddard played up in competition, facing 6A teams instead of having a more compelling matchup with another 5A school. Both teams could have faced Mayfield, Deming or Farmington.

“Whatever we got, I think we’re all just thankful for it,” White said. “We went through a whole season and the kids stayed completely healthy. That’s a big plus. And we played some good football, too. In a regular season, this team would be in the hunt for the blue trophy. It gives us a lot that we can go to work and build on for next year, too.”

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

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