By Marty Mayfield
Raton hosted a first round NM State 3A Football Championship playoff game with Cuba Saturday afternoon November 11th in the Jungle and easily controlled the first half before turning the reins over to the JV in the second half for the 49-24 win.
The Raton defense forced the Rams to three and out after pinning them at their three-yard line. A fake punt and incomplete pass left Raton the ball on the Ram five-yard line. Tristen Gallegos took the ball the five yards for six and Aden Vanderwater added the PAT for a 7-0 game at 10:18 in the first quarter.
Another short Ram series resulted and gave the Tigers the ball on the Raton 20. Four plays later a 35-yard pass play from Dustin Segura to Gabe Martinez put six more on the board for Raton. The PAT made it a 14-0 game.
Cuba struggled on the next series with penalties and a punt gave Raton the ball at the 46. From there Raton drove the ball to the five-yard line where Segura found Nathaniel Tarbox for six and Tristen Gallegos added the 2-point conversion for a 22-0 game with 1:31 left in the first quarter.
Ismael Tafoya picked off an AJ Segura pass and returned it over 45 yards to the Ram three. From there Richie Acevedo took it in for six more but the PAT was low and blocked for a 28-0 game at 1:04 in the first.
Another four and out for Cuba gave the Tigers the ball on the 48 but four plays later a fumble recovered by the Rams gave Cuba the ball on the Raton 23-yard line. Another four and out for Cuba who faked more punts that resulted in incomplete passes gave Raton the ball on the 24. Five plays later a pass to Aden Vanderwater resulted in another six for Raton. Vanderwater’s PAT was good for a 35-0 game.
The Raton defense held on for a three and out and gave the offense the chance for another six when Ethan Martinez rumbled 10 yards for six more and with the PAT it was a 42-0 game with 1:42 left in the half. Ismael Tafoya intercepted an AJ Segura pass to end the half.
Second half action brought the Raton JV team to the field and while the defense did a fairly good job holding the Rams the Raton offense struggled to move the ball until the fourth quarter. Cuba however finally found the chink in the Raton defense and Orion Putman put the first points on the board when he caught an AJ Segura pass for six with only 18 seconds left in the third quarter. Miguel Madrid added the 2-point conversion to make it a 42-8 ball game.
Raton went three and out with Nathaniel Tarbox punting the ball into the end zone for the touch back. Cuba then put together another scoring drive that found Jeremy Segura all alone in the secondary with open field in front to go 65 yards for six. Again, Madrid added the 2-point conversion for a 42-16 game.
The Raton JV unable to move the ball was forced to punt where Tarbox put the ball on the Ram 10-yardline. From there Cuba once again put together a scoring drive that ended with a AJ Segura 31-yard run for six. Madrid plowed through the line for the 2-point try for a 42-24 score.
Ismael Tafoya took the kickoff 75 yards for six the PAT was good for a 49-24 score with 4:07 left on the clock.
Cuba took the ball to the 50 then a 50-yard pass play to Miguel Medina was called back for an illegal man down field penalty. Cuba would turn the ball over and Raton would end the game with a couple of knees to move on to the next round of state play in Estancia.
Raton Coach Tory Giacomo noted that the varsity boys did what he wanted by running the score to 42 then getting the JV team in for some much-needed playing time.
The Tigers are now into the quarterfinals and will travel next week to the Estancia Bears who got a fourth seed in the tourney and a bye into the second round of play. Giacomo noted it will be a tough game that the boys will have to play their best to win.