Home Sports Local Sports Goddard falls to Los Lunas in semifinal

Goddard falls to Los Lunas in semifinal

The Rockets’ Jon Silva (3) carries the ball against Los Lunas in Saturday’s semifinal game. Los Lunas won 26-21. (Steve Notz Photo)

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The Goddard Rockets’ season came to an end Saturday afternoon as they fell to the Los Lunas Tigers on the road in the postseason’s semifinal round.

Los Lunas beat Goddard 26-21. With the win, the Tigers punched their ticket to the state championship game where they’ll face the Artesia Bulldogs.

Goddard coach Chris White said after the game, “The kids sure fought their hearts out, that’s all you can ask for in this business.”

Goddard jumped out to an early lead Saturday and led for most of the game. The Rockets made it clear early on the formula they’ve relied upon all season — tough defense and a commitment to the ground game — would continue in the semifinal game.

Goddard kicked off to Los Lunas to begin the contest and the Rockets’ defense promptly forced the Tigers to punt. On the first play of Goddard’s opening drive, a long touchdown scamper by running back Jon Silva quickly made it 7-0, Goddard, with 8:55 left in the opening quarter.

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The teams then traded turnovers on their ensuing possessions. On the Tigers’ next drive they fumbled the ball away. But 52 seconds later the Rockets fumbled the ball back to Los Lunas. The Tigers, however, weren’t able to capitalize on the turnover and the first quarter ended with the Rockets leading 7-0.

Goddard would extend their lead to 14-0 thanks to an Adrian Vega touchdown pass with 11:54 left in the second quarter, but a Los Lunas score at the 7:31 mark narrowed the gap to 14-7, Goddard.

Goddard struck again in the final minutes of the first half as another touchdown by Silva with 1:52 left in the second quarter gave the Rockets a 21-7 advantage.

That score would hold until the teams headed to their respective locker rooms at half time.

The Rockets got the ball to begin the third quarter. Facing a fourth down on their opening drive, they went for it — but failed to convert, giving the ball back to Los Lunas on downs. This time the Tigers would take advantage: A Los Lunas rushing touchdown with 8:02 remaining in the third quarter narrowed the Rockets’ lead to 21-14.

The game began to take on the feel of a defensive struggle as neither team could find the end zone for the remainder of the third quarter. The fourth quarter began with the score still 21-14 in favor of Goddard.

Facing a fourth down with 8:12 remaining in the game’s final stanza, the Rockets went for it and could not convert, giving Los Lunas the ball. Four plays later Los Lunas quarterback Paul Cieremans ran the ball into the end zone for a touchdown. The Tigers then went for two and failed to convert, allowing the Rockets to preserve a narrow lead, 21-20, with just over seven minutes left in the contest.

Goddard was forced to punt on their next possession, giving the Tigers the ball back with 4:38 left in the game. The Tigers would take the lead a few plays later on a Cieremans touchdown pass with two minutes to go in the fourth. After an unsuccessful two-point conversion attempt it was 26-21, Tigers. The Rockets were unable to close the gap on their final drive.

White reflected a bit on the Rockets’ year. “We overcame so much to just be where we were … a few minutes away from being in a state championship — and it just kind of sums up what you can do in life, if you just put your head down, have a goal and work every day toward your goal and don’t be distracted,” he said.

“That was my message to the kids and they get that. These kids, starting in July, we come up before the sun’s up and start working. It’s been a really good group of kids as far as commitment … they’ve been a lot of fun to coach.”

Los Lunas will face Artesia in the championship game next week after the Bulldogs defeated the Farmington Scorpions 57-14 in the tournament’s other semifinal contest Saturday in Artesia. Further details of that contest were not available at press time.

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