By Marty Mayfield
The air was a buzz as the State Champion Clayton Yellowjackets swarmed into the Jungle for the first District 5AAA game of the season for Raton. It only took one play for Clayton to show why they are still a championship class team as Brian Montoya scampered 60 yards for the first of three quick scores for the Yellowjackets.
Jose Zamora tacked on the 2-point try and with only 18 seconds gone off the clock Clayton was up 8-0. A fumble and no place to go with only negative yardage on Raton’s first series, the Tigers were forced to punt from deep inside their territory. A quick punt from quarterback Dante Mileta left the ball on Raton’s own 22.
Jose Zamora scooted the 22 yards for another six and Mark Craine a 6’4” 260 pound senior pounded the ball in for the 2-points conversion. At 9:21 on the clock it was a 16-0 game.
Clayton took over the ball again when Jose Zamora picked off a Dante Mileta pass at Clayton’s 39 yard line. Koy Geary then raced 61 yards for the next Clayton TD. This time the 2-point try failed and with 7:26 still on the first quarter clock it was a 22-0 game.
Raton finally got into the swing of things and put together a decent drive including a 40-yard pass play from Mileta to Martin Ortiz. But the Clayton defense struck and finally forced the ball over on downs.
The Raton defense held strong for three plays on this Clayton series before Clayton’s Justin Taylor scampered 43 yards to pay dirt. Irving Tarin tacked on the 2-point try to make it a 30-0 score with 1:35 left in the first.
Raton was forced to punt to begin the second quarter and Koy Geary took that punt 72 yards for another six. Tucker Poling tacked on the 2-points for a 38-0 score at 11:34 on the clock.
The only positive yardage in Raton’s next series came from a defensive holding penalty. On the punt Jose Zamora sped down to the Raton 2-yard line where Lance Glover finished it off driving over the right side for six. The 2-point try failed leaving the score at 44-0 with 8:31 on the clock.
Raton fumbled on the first play of the next series and one play later Clayton fumbled with the ball going out of bounds in the end zone, it was ruled a touch back and gave Raton the ball on the 20.
Raton started to make some headway in the passing game including a 15-yard pass interference call only to be stopped by Justin Taylor who collected a Mileta pass and scampered 40 yards to pay dirt. The PAT was riddled by a motion penalty that cost Clayton five yards so they decided to try an extra point kick but a roughing the holder penalty moved the ball half the distance to the goal, back to the four. This time the Justin Taylor PAT was good.
Clayton tacked on one more score when Seth Martinez pounded in a one-yard TD. Justin Taylor just missed the PAT and left the score at 57-0 with 4:22 left in the game.
Raton simply couldn’t move the ball and gave it up on downs with just over a minute left in the game where Clayton took a knee to tie the ribbon on the win.
Raton Coach Tory Giacomo knew it would be a tough game for Raton but as he told KRTN afterwards he didn’t expect it to end so quickly. The game ended at halftime on the 50-point rule. He noted that Clayton has some track stars on the team and they can run, often outrunning the younger Raton players.
Raton will host Tucumcari in the jungle Friday night for their last home game of the season before traveling to Santa Rosa for the final game in their new district.