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Moriarty’s run game grinds down Santa Fe High, wins 20-12

September 1, 2018

MORIARTY — Joe Anaya knows exactly how Andrew Martinez and the Santa Fe High Demons are feeling.

Moriarty’s head football coach has a bit of history with losing streaks — he was at Albuquerque High for the start of its state-record 43-game losing streak in 2010-11. Anaya understands how heart-wrenching and gut-aching another loss can feel.

“When things go wrong, it’s hard to turn it around,” Anaya said. “It’s hard to keep those kids fighting, but [Martinez, the Demons head coach] has done a good job. Those kids never quit.”

Of course, Anaya talked as a coach on the other end of the spectrum as his Pintos held off a dogged Demons’ squad for a 20-12 win at home Friday night.

It took a 44-yard run by Pintos quarterback Bryan Wright with a little more than a minute left in the game to officially quash Santa Fe’s High’s hopes at ending its now 35-game losing streak.

It was a 17-minute, 59-second stretch in the second and third quarters that put the Demons in peril.

In that span, the Pintos (1-1) scored all of their points and kept the ball away from the Santa Fe High offense for all but 57 seconds. With Moriarty’s vaunted winged-T offense, it felt like an eternity for the Demons’ defense.

“It was hard, but our defense had the mentality that we had to stop them and get the ball back,” senior defensive lineman Trent Jones said.

“We were playing with them. We just had too many mistakes, and that would break it.”

Until Moriarty took over at its 34-yard line at the 11:55 mark of the second, the Pintos had just four yards of offense as Santa Fe High (0-2) bottled up the running game.

But the Pintos were a patient, determined group, just waiting for that one big play to expose the cracks in a defense. Then the yards started to cascade with 232 rushing yards in that span.

“We’re patient enough to know that we’re going to find our rhythm,” Anaya said.

Xavier Romero was that opening crack, as the senior running back swept around the right side and scampered for 31 yards on third-and-20 at the Moriarty 34. Four players later, Pedro Sandoval pounded into the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 7:43 left in the first half.

After that drive, the Pintos ran for 304 of their 308 yards of offense — all on the ground. Only two of their 51 plays were passes and both fell incomplete.

“Once they started running the ball on us a little bit, we started falling into some habits and stopped reading our keys,” Martinez said. “They took advantage of the wide side [of the field] on our defensive end.”

Santa Fe High’s lone offensive series came on the ensuing drive, and it took three plays, two yards and less than a minute.

But the Demons did not go scoreless, thanks to a special teams play that brought life to the Santa Fe High faithful. After the Pintos’ next drive went nowhere, Joel Rodriguez grabbed a punt off a hop and scampered 52 yards for a touchdown that cut the lead to 7-6 with 4:29 left.

But then came a 10:33 interlude as Moriarty simply put its offense on display. The Pintos ran out the clock before halftime with their drive ending at the Santa Fe 20, but they came out and continued to march away. A nine-play, 59-yard drive ended in a Romero 12-yard touchdown run and a 13-6 lead.

“We just kinda slowed down a little bit,” senior linebacker/running back Sammy Martinez said. “I think we were a little mad that they got such long runs.”

Then came the pivotal play of the game — Demons returner Jeremy Martinez botched recieving the kickoff and it bounced to Moriarty’s Caleb Macleod at the Demons’ 25.

Four plays later, Romero he raced around the right side for a 20-yard touchdown for a 20-6 lead.

Meanwhile, the Demons’ offense sputtered. After an opening drive in which they drove 47 yards to the Moriarty 31 before a pair of sacks pushed them back, the Demons had just 28 yards over the next 21/2 quarters.

It wasn’t until the final drive that Santa Fe High got its offense going.

In a meandering 15-play, 91-yard drive, Santa Fe High twice went for it on fourth down and succeeded.

Freshman quarterback Luc Jaramillo connected on 3 of 6 passes on the drive after missing on 12 of his previous 13 attempts. His 27-yard throw to Matthew Maestas got the Demons to the Moriarty 2, and Martinez needed two tries before scoring the offense’s first TD of the year from 1 yard out to cut the score to 20-12.

“It’s just little things,” Jones said. “We need to give [Jaramillo] more time. Receivers have to run crisper routes. It’s just little things.”

But little things always seem to turn into bigger things when a win is on the line.

Anaya knows how annoying that feeling is.

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