On a windy night in Estancia, The Raton Tigers had a nightmare first half in the quarterfinals of the 3A NM State Football Championships, losing two fumbles and suffering three interceptions against the Bears, but the Tigers defense kept Raton in the game before the clock ran out on the game and the season as Raton suffered a 26-14 loss.
The Bears actually committed the first turnover in the game on their second possession as Raton’s Brandon Urquijo recovered after a hit by Rafael Maso. Raton couldn’t capitalize though and punted, giving Estancia the ball. After a short drive Cruz Moreno threw to Josh Thomas for a 35 yard scoring pass for the first score with 2:15 left in the first quarter.
Raton fumbled on the next possession and Cruz Moreno finished off the short drive with a 22-yard run and Brian Walker missed the PAT making it 13-0 with 11:34 left in the first half. Yet another fumble gave the Bears another opportunity as Josh Thomas scored his second of three TDs with a 16 yard scramble with 10:12 left in the half and it was 20-0.
The next three series were interceptions from the Bears defense, but the Raton defense kept the game close and at the end of the first half Estancia couldn’t put the Tigers away.
Raton received the second half kickoff, but couldn’t do anything with it. Again the Raton defense kept the game close when Ethan Martinez recovered a Bears fumble inside Raton’s own 10 at 1:47 left in the third. Raton’s offense woke up, with the help of one of several personal fouls, Raton had a 4th and 5 and converted to keep the drive alive with a 7-yard completion from Dustin Segura to Nathaniel Tarbox. Raton would continue the drive into the fourth quarter when Dustin Segura took off for a 47 yard run and with the Vanderwater PAT it was 20-7 with 10:52 left in the game.
A 33 yard TD run by Thomas was negated by offsetting penalties Raton took over with 6:54 left in the game, and fumbled the snap again with Estancia recovering and making Raton pay for the mistake with a 9 play drive, capped by a 1 yard run by Thomas and with just under three minutes left, Estancia lead 26-7.
Raton’s offense though can strike quickly and it was a 75 yard pass play from Segura to Gabe Martinez that gave Raton another ray of hope as it was 26-14 with 2:42 left in the game.
Estancia chewed time off the clock, but coughed up the football and Raton recovered on their own 25 yard line and mounted a late drive, but couldn’t convert on a fourth down to lose in the quarterfinals.
Raton ended the season with a 9 and 3 record and will lose the services of eleven seniors including Nathaniel Tarbox, Dustin Segura, Tristan Gallegos, Gabe Martinez, Christian Snyder, Rafael Maso, Cole Medina, Roy Flores, William Holland, Brandon Decker and Ethan Martinez.
Coaches for the Tigers included Head Coach Tori Giacomo and assistant coaches Justin Malano, Robby Armijo, Jeremy Topping, Monte McGowan and Richard Main. Managers for the 2017 Tigers were Sydni Silva and Jeremy Topping.