RUIDOSO – Just six plays into the game on Oct. 21 – that includes the kickoff – Portales had its first score of their District 4-4A football showdown against Ruidoso.
By the end of the first quarter, the Rams led 27-0 and were almost able to end things early in a 58-23 blowout at W.D. Horton Stadium.
Ruidoso coach Kief Johnson knew the Rams (7-1, 2-0 district) had a lethal running game, but his defensive line still seemed completely unprepared to handle the option presented by quarterback Junior Ramirez and running back Darion Ontiveros.
“They have some specimens on their team, they’re big and fast,” said Ruidoso coach Kief Johnson. “We opened up the floodgates a few places and missed tackles, then they got after us offensively.”
Ruidoso (5-4, 2-1) didn’t get on the board until the second quarter, when Brennam Stewart connected with Isaiah Otero for a 49-yard pass and score with 10:26 left in the first half.
Jose Enriquez later added a 30-yard field goal at 8:40 to make it a 33-10 Portales lead.
Statistics at the half really told the whole story. The Rams had already racked up 413 yards by that point, compared to just 139 for Ruidoso.
Any hope the Warriors had of a second half comeback was pretty much squashed on the first play after the kickoff by Portales, as Junior Ramirez ran completely untouched for 80 yards for a score.
After another Ram score with 2:41 left in the third quarter, Portales attempted to end the game early with a two-point conversion, which would have made it a 50-point contest.
The pass failed, but that attempt to end things early lit a fire under the Warriors.
“I’m proud of this team, they keep fighting until the bitter end,” Johnson said. “We had to fight for some pride.”
Stewart and Otero connected two more times for touchdowns – at 30 and 40 yards, respectively. It wasn’t enough for a comeback, but it did salvage some pride near the end.
Now the Warriors have a bye week to prepare for unbeaten Moriarty. The Pintos beat Hope Christian 41-20 and take on Portales on Oct. 28.
Ruidoso may have lost a chance at a district title, but a higher seed in the upcoming Class 4A playoffs is still a possibility with a win over Moriarty.
“We just need to bounce back. We’ve got two weeks to get ready for (Moriarty),” Johnson said. “We’ve got to keep fighting and we’ve got to start off better.
“It depends on what happens between Moriarty and Portales whether we even have a shot at a district championship,” he added. “But we’re fighting for a spot in the playoffs and feel like we should make a deeper run once we get there.”