By Marty Mayfield
The Raton Tigers took to the road once again for their final regular season game on Friday, October 27, making the long trek to the east central New Mexico community of Texico to play their district opponent, the Wolverines. The road back home after the game was not quite as long as the Tigers capped great season with a 20-12 victory to push their record to an impressive 8-2.
The Tigers took the opening kickoff but went three and out, then held the Wolverines to six plays and forced them to turn the ball over on downs. Raton then put together an 11-play drive from deep in Raton territory to go the distance for six and end it on a 15-yard pass to Nathaniel Tarbox with 1:27 left in the 1st quarter. Aden Vanderwater’s PAT is good to make it a 7-0 ball game.
Texico then returns the favor with a 68-yard drive ending in a 33-yard pass play to Cayd Bilbrey from Brayden Wines for six. The PAT is no good and leaves it 7-6. Raton gets yardage on a 42-yard pass play to Tarbox but two plays later the Wolverines Brayden Wines intercepts a Dustin Segura pass and takes over on the 24-yard line.
Unable to move the ball, Texico is forced to punt where Ismael Tafoya finds the blocking wall and takes it 49 yards to the Wolverine 5-yardline. A holding call puts it back to the 15, and although Raton manages to get back to the eight, they are unable to get it over the goal line and turn it over on downs at the 8-yardline.
The Wolverines trying for a big play, fail and are forced to punt the ball away. Tafoya takes the ball to the Wolverine 33 with only 2:20 on the 2nd quarter clock. Raton puts gets a break with a pass interference penalty and gets the ball at the 9-yardline. Two plays later its Richie Acevedo on the pitch out for a five-yard TD run for another six. Vanderwater makes it 14-6 with 1:04 left in the half.
The Wolverines take the second half kickoff to the 30 and go three and out and a short punt gives Raton the ball at the Texico 49. Unable to move the ball the Tigers turn it over on downs at the 38 yardline. The remainder of the third period went back and forth with neither team able to move the ball. Raton suffered from penalties while Texico suffered from sacks that cost both teams yardage in the quarter.
Fourth quarter action sees Raton take over and drive the ball 97 yards to pay dirt with the help of a 34 yard Tarbox run and a 29-yard pass play to Gabe Martinez. Raton finished it with a 14-yard run by quarterback Aden Vanderwater for the six. The 2-point conversion fails with a bad snap and leaves it 20-6 with about 9:00 left on the clock.
Texico again puts together a 51-yard 13-play drive for six. Texico ends it with a 14-yard pass play to Craig Ray. The 2-point conversion fails leaving it 20-12 with 6:05 left in the game.
Nathaniel Tarbox gets a great punt and pins the Wolverines at their five yardline where the Tigers put the brakes on the Wolverines offense and force the turnover on downs at the Texico 18 yardline with 1:48 on the clock.
Raton runs three plays with three fumbles with the last fumble being recovered by Texico at the 10-yardline to end the Tigers chance at another TD. Texico now has 90 yards to go with less than 20 seconds on the clock. The Raton defense does the job and ends the game 20-12.
Raton now sits second in the district at 3-1 behind Santa Rosa who is 3-0 and will play Clayton next week. Raton has a by week this week to end the regular season of play. The playoff schedule and brackets will be determined following next week’s games.