Home Sports Local Sports Roswell beats Artesia 30-29 in comeback thriller

Roswell beats Artesia 30-29 in comeback thriller

Roswell's Josh Estrada (30) crosses the goal line for a touchdown with 40.2 seconds left in the game during the Coyotes' win over Artesia Friday. (David Rocha Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Editor’s note: This article has been revised to reflect a scheduling change for the RHS game versus Alamogordo. It has been rescheduled for Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. at the Wool Bowl.

After a bye week and a game played in Texas, the Coyotes returned to Roswell Friday evening to host the Artesia Bulldogs in their first district contest of the season.

They returned to the Wool Bowl — and returned to form, beating the Bulldogs 30-29 in a game that was in question until the final minute.

With Artesia leading 29-22 with under a minute left in the game, Coyotes quarterback Rich Arreola hit Josh Estrada with a touchdown pass to narrow the Bulldogs’ lead to 29-28. A two-point conversion on a quarterback keeper by Arreola then gave Roswell the lead, 30-29, with only 40.2 seconds remaining.

An Artesia fumble would end the Bulldogs’ attempt to retake the lead and allowed the Coyotes to finish the game in the victory formation.

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It was the kind of hard-fought and emotional Roswell-Artesia matchup southeast New Mexico football fans have grown accustomed to.

“It’s a typical Roswell-Artesia game,” Coyotes coach Jeff Lynn said afterward. “These games come down to it. They’re well-coached and they’ve got a good football team over there.

“Our kids, we challenged them all week. The excuses were over. It’s time to win the game and that’s what we did. We didn’t play perfect and it wasn’t beautiful, but they got the win and that’s what we challenged them to do.”

Roswell kicked off to Artesia to begin the game but forced a punt, then found the end zone on their first drive of the evening. Facing a fourth down on the Artesia five yard-line, the Coyotes kept the ball on the ground. Sebastian Mendoza reached out with the football to break the plane of the goal line just before the ball popped loose — but that final stretch was enough.

The referee signaled touchdown and just like that the Coyotes were up 7-0 with 5:41 left in the first.

On their next drive the Bulldogs took the lead with a touchdown at the 2:50 mark, followed by a two-point conversion to make it 8-7 Artesia. That was the score as the first quarter came to a close.

With 10:53 left in the half, the lead changed hands again as Jonah Gamboa took a hand-off from Rich Arreola and ran in for a score. A two-point conversion made it Roswell 15, Artesia 8.

A TD pass from Arreola to Estrada extended the Coyotes’ lead to 22-8 with 8:02 left in the second.

With just over five minutes left in the half, the Roswell defense came up with a tone-setting goal-line stand as the Bulldogs faced a fourth and goal on the Roswell one yard-line. The crowd erupted as the Coyotes’ defense stuffed the Artesia rushing attempt, giving the ball back to the Roswell offense.

The Coyotes were unable to capitalize, however, and on the Bulldogs’ next possession they cut into the Roswell lead with a passing touchdown, making it Roswell 22, Artesia 15.

In the third, the Bulldogs would take advantage of a pair of Roswell turnovers. The Bulldogs kicked off to the Coyotes but a Roswell fumble gave Artesia a chance to even the score. An Artesia touchdown pass with 10:36 remaining in the third tied the game at 22-22.

Roswell fumbled on their next possession and again Artesia capitalized with a touchdown pass to capture the lead, 29-22. That’s where the score stood until the Coyotes’ final drive, capped by the touchdown and go-ahead two-point conversion.

“This is a young team. … They’re resilient, they don’t get down and they just keep fighting. This was a good win for us but we’ve got another big game next week,” Lynn said.

Roswell (3-5) hosts Alamogordo Oct. 21 at 7 p.m., while the Bulldogs (5-3) will play Goddard in Artesia.

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