RUIDOSO – For a quarter – for a half, even – Ruidoso’s football team wasn’t playing the type of game they expected against New Mexico Military Institute on Oct. 7.
At the break, the Warriors led 7-0, but they could have easily led 21-0 if not for their own mistakes.
In the second half, Ruidoso turned on the jets and ended up with a 48-7 victory.
While the Warriors (4-3, 1-0 District 4-4A) had numerous penalties that kept them from leaping ahead initially, NMMI wasn’t exactly rolling over. They came to play, despite being the underdog.
“We were in the red zone three times and couldn’t score,” said Ruidoso coach Kief Johnson of his team’s inability to score early.
Ruidoso was able to score in the first half – on a 41-yard ramble by quarterback Brennam Stewart with 3:23 left in the second quarter – but take away that run and the Warriors actually had one less rushing yard than the Colts (2-5, 0-1).
Also, that one touchdown was all Ruidoso could muster thanks to penalties. There were at least two more touchdowns that were nullified due to infractions, even though the Warriors only earned five flags in the first half.
“We weren’t excited about the first half, that’s for sure,” Johnson said. “but one good thing about our team, we can wear them down in the third and fourth quarters. That’s been our M.O., if we can get it going.”
Ruidoso finished the game with 140 yards on 13 penalties, compared to 38 on seven flags for NMMI.
But the Warrior offense proved to be too much to keep down in the second half. Cisco Mayville scored the first of three touchdowns with 7:04 left in the third quarter as the floodgates opened.
Two touchdown passes to Alex Bates – one from Stewart, the other from Isaiah Otero – and a 16-yard run by Gabriel Dorame with 4:20 left in the game rounded out the Ruidoso scoring.
“We just had to regroup, calm down and start playing as a team,” Dorame said. “When we start playing individually, we start shooting ourselves in the foot. So we have to come together so we can play like we did in the second half.”
The defense almost got a shutout, but Fausto Baranzini – who led his team with 131 yards rushing – finally put the Colts on the board with a 25-yard scramble just a minute into the second half.
Baranzini also came up with an improbable first down on fourth-and-long after his punt was blocked, and engineered a fake punt for a first down in the final period.
While the victory was a good way to start district play and send the Warriors on a high into next weekend’s game at Hope Christian in Albuquerque, Johnson knew the penalties and undisciplined play will hurt when they face teams like Portales or Moriarty.
“I told them we cant have that kind of stuff,” Johnson said. “I told one player they were lucky we were ahead by so much, or I’d have been really ripping into him.
“Moriarty’s (unbeaten) and ranked No. 2 or 3 in the state right now, so we’ve got to really step up our game,” he added. “We can’t come out slow like we did tonight.”