By Marty Mayfield
Two of the younger teams in New Mexico high school football met Friday night in the Jungle as Raton (1-7) hosted Tucumcari (0-8) who also has a large number of freshman playing on their team, for a district 5AAA match up.
The defense took the first two series as both teams struggled to move the ball. A bad snap on fourth down however gave Raton the ball on the Tucumcari 28. From there Raton moved to the 12 where Dante Mileta found Jonathan Cabrieles for a 12 yard TD pass play to put Raton on the board with 5:38 on the clock. The PAT failed and left it 6-0.
Tucumcari then took six plays to go the 64 yards culminating the drive with a 16 yard power house play by Saul Moriel, a 5’ 9” 215 pound senior, who simply pounded his way into the end zone by breaking tackles and running over players. The 2-point try failed and it was a 6-6 game.
Raton started the next series with a sack and started making progress when D’Onatee Sandoval picked off a Mileta pass at the Tucumcari six-yard line. Three plays later Connell Ware wrestles the ball away from Javier Villanueva and scampers the 20 yards to pay dirt for the second Raton TD. The 2-point try failed and Raton lead 12-6 with 7:28 on the second quarter clock.
Tucumcari pounded the ball on the ground for 49 yards in nine plays ending with a two-yard run by the big back Saul Moriel. This time Sandoval took in the pass from Ferguson for the 2-point conversion and it was a 14-12 ball game.
Raton took the kickoff down inside the red zone and with a personal foul penalty to the nine-yard line. The Dakota Martinez nine-yard run was called back on an illegal block. Mileta gained some of the loss back but another personal foul took the ball to the 31where the ball went back and forth with a couple of penalties and finally ended with a 25 yard pass play to Jonathan Cabrieles with eight seconds left in the second quarter. Mileta ran the ball in for the 2-point try and left the score 20-14.
Tucumcari took the second half kickoff and started the ground game moving the ball down the field yard by yard and took over seven minutes off the clock before the Raton defense halted the drive and turned it over on downs at the Raton 30 with a couple of sacks.
Raton went four and out and it became a tough defensive battle from there. As the fourth quarter progressed it seemed like the ball got stuck on the Tucumcari 24 when Raton’s Cole Medina recovered a Tucumcari fumble at their 24. Unable to move Raton turns it over on downs at the 25. Raton gets the ball back on the 20 and turns it over to Tucumcari on the 22 where Raton gets it back to end the game.
Coach Tory Giacomo told KRTN after the game that he was proud of how his team played and is looking forward to Santa Rosa next week especially after hearing that Clayton toppled Santa Rosa ending that game 52-0 in the third quarter giving Raton hope of a possible win Friday night in Santa Rosa as Raton is 1-1 in district play. Santa Rosa is also 1-1 in district play and 3-6 overall. Santa Rosa beat Tucumcari last week 52-22 at Tucumcari.
With a win over Santa Rosa Raton would finish the district in second place giving them a shot at play in the state tourney.