By Marty Mayfield
The Jungle came alive Friday night with sounds of high school football at its best. Raton head coach Brock Walton said earlier in the week we have to come to play and both teams didn’t disappoint the fans.
By the time the final buzzer sounded Raton had come from behind and scored a whopping 21 points to win the game 35-21. For the Rattlers first possession it was five yards at a time chewing up the clock taking just under eight minutes of the first quarter to travel the 64 yards in 14 plays to pay dirt. Marcus Chavez nailed the extra point and made it a 7-0 ballgame.
Raton didn’t waste any time pounding out the 71 yards in only six plays including a 20-yard pass play from Cam Baird to Caleb Wood. Baird would then pull the Rattler defense off sides for five more yards. Anthony Saenz finished it off with a 10-yard run and Toby Henson barely missed the crossbar with the point after tying the game at seven.
Tucumcari turned it around and with the help of a holding penalty drove down to the 1-yard line in six plays from the Raton 47. Saul Moriel a big 215-pound junior pounded through the Raton defense for six. Chavez capped the series off with another point after for 14-7 game with 9:09 in the second quarter.
A pass interception ended the Raton drive but Tucumcari was unable to capitalize and was forced to punt it away. Raton faired no better and after four plays punted it away.
Tucumcari took over on the their 37 and pounded it down to the three yard line. Daniel Lopez squirted through and crossed the line as the buzzer sounded ending the first half. The extra point was good and it was a 21-7 ball game at half.
Second half action however was a whole new ball game as Raton came out of the locker room ready to play. The first series when started off with Caleb Wood returning the kickoff to the Tucumcari 45 yard line. Baird pulled the Rattlers offsides two more times and the Tigers finished it off the 7-play series with a 18 yard pass play to Louis Ruiz for six. Henson’s extra point attempt was low and blocked.
Tucumcari’s ground game began to falter and they turned it over on downs at the Raton four. Lightning struck and 15 yard pass to Caleb Wood turned into a 72 yard romp to pay dirt. Coach Walton, know for a sneak play now and then, pulled one off and got a pass to Louis Ruiz for the 2-point conversion. It was now a 21-21 game.
Tucumcari again turned it over on downs and Raton promptly headed for the goal line. It was a picture perfect reverse using Toby Henson to pass (Toby played quarterback last year) the ball again to Caleb Wood who scrambled the 49 yards for a score. Henson’s extra point was good and Raton lead 28-21.
The Raton defense put the ropes on the Rattlers and shut down the running game and took the ball on downs at the Tucumcari 46. This time Raton’s Jordan Mendez took it 15 yards, two plays later it was another Baird Wood combination this time for 29 yards with 3:15 left on the game clock. The extra point made it a 35-21 ball game and again the Raton defense did its job and held off the Rattlers to put a mark in the win Column.
Walton really commended Jacob Concha for stepping in after Andres Vargas got hurt. Concha a receiver never played the line and Walton really felt he did a great job of filling in. He added that the mistakes in the early part of the game hurt them but the boys came back and made the plays.
Raton will host Trinidad this week with the coveted Coal Bucket up for grabs after Trinidad captured it last year from Raton who had held it for the previous two years. Game time will be at 7:00 p.m. in the Jungle.