CAPITAN – Don’t let the 36-0 final score fool you. Capitan didn’t have this game in hand until just before halftime.
At least that’s how Capitan coach James Weems sees his team’s Class 3A State quarterfinal win on Nov. 19.
“This game was similar to what we did in Loving. Call it the bye-week blues, we’ve just got to get back into it,” Weems said, referring to his team’s two-week practice prior to Saturday’s game. “We tried to prepare for that, but that’s something that happens. You step on the field and you feel like you’re ready to go, but that’s not your team yet.”
Things were scoreless at the end of the first quarter, but the Capitan Tigers (10-1) were at least threatening. They made good on that threat less than 30 seconds into the second quarter on a 1-yard punch-in by Stephen Ellison.
That touchdown was all Capitan needed, but it got another score at 5:50 in the second period on another short run, this time by quarterback Price Bowen.
That score almost didn’t happen, as the Tigers in Orange had two plays that looked like scores called back – one when Ellison was ruled out of bounds at the Raton four, and one on a holding penalty.
Bowen finally scored on a fourth-and-one play.
“I think it’s all mental to start with us,” Bowen said. “We’d watched film on them, and we knew they were tough, but we still might have though it wouldn’t be that tough a game. That’s something we have to work on and be ready to play from the start.”
After those scores, Weems said things seemed more in hand.
“We were moving the ball efficiently, and had things going our way, but those penalties were still sneaking up,” Weems said. “Once we came back from halftime and moved the ball down the field, we were pretty confident.”
Things really started rolling for Capitan when Bowen connected with Brontson Leach from seven yards out to make it 21-0 with 7:10 left in the third quarter.
“Jacob (Smith) had just come out after running a long play, and coach called the play for me,” Leach said. “I cut back, and Jacob found me in the endzone. That’s just a good quarterback.
“It felt really good for me to come out and put some points on the board for my team,” he added. “It felt good personally, after all this hard work, to get a shot.”
Bowen finished with 168 yards passing and two touchdowns on the day, while Ellison rushed for 124 yards and a pair of scores.
Raton (7-5) couldn’t get anything going offensively. As a team, they had just eight first downs compared to Capitan’s 21, and they were only able to amass 143 yards total.
Quarterback Dustin Segura led his team with just 51 yards rushing.
Raton’s frustrations came to the fore after an interception by Alejandro Trujillo late in the fourth quarter to pretty much seal the victory. Lineman Jaziah Salazar was ejected after taking a swing at a Capitan player after the play was done.
That gave the C-Tigers 30 yards in penalties with just over a minute left, and all Bowen had to do was kneel twice and run out the clock.
Now Capitan is to face District 4-3A foe Dexter in the State semifinals next week.
“We just have to do what we did the first time around,” Weems said, referring to the Tigers’ 27-13 win over the Demons in October. “We did make some mistakes, but we’re confident against those guys. We’re on top of it, prepare for them like we did the first time around and hopefully the defense will show up.”