Escalante Survives Scare, Comes Back To Beat Jal 28-16

by Staff Reporter / Nov 10, 2017 / comments
In this photo of a pre-season scrimage, Escalante quarterback Esteban Archuleta hands off to running back Anthony Ulibarri during practice. Photos by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Escalante Survives Scare, Comes Back To Beat Jal 28-16

Lobos will Face Fort Sumner in Championship Game

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

Escalante Coach Dusty Giles had warned his team that the Class 2A state football playoffs semifinal game against Jal High School would be a battle. Despite Escalante’s 43-22 victory over the Panthers earlier in the season in Tierra Amarilla, Giles knew the atmosphere in the playoffs would be more intense than that of a regular season game.

His feelings proved to be spot on, as the Lobos trailed the Panthers 16-14 heading into the fourth and final quarter of their semifinal game Nov. 4 in Tierra Amarilla. Escalante had to battle from behind, scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter to take a 28-16 victory and advance to the Class 2A state championship game Saturday (11/11) against Fort Sumner High School at Fort Sumner.

“It was a tough one,” Coach Giles said. “I knew it was going to be.”

Despite the six-hour ride from Jal to Tierra Amarilla, the Panthers came off the bus ready to play and drew first blood, scoring a touchdown and a two-point conversion in the first quarter to take an 8-0 lead.

Escalante tied the score in the second quarter when A. J. Blea scooped up a fumble by the Panthers and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown. The successful two-point conversion tied the score 8-8 at halftime.

Esteban Archuleta, who had been Escalante’s starting quarterback until being injured against Jal Sept. 29, started for the Lobos against Jal in the semifinals and struggled. He threw three interceptions and completed 4-of-7 passes for just 25 yards.

Cody Russom, who had replaced Archuleta at quarterback for the last three games, took over at quarterback in the second half and the Lobos offense started to click. Although he did throw an interception, Russom completed 3-of-5 passes for 118 yards. That included a 77-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Paul Martinez in the second half. Escalante running back Anthony Ulibarri ran for two touchdowns in the second half and finished the game with 125 yards rushing on 24 carries.

With the victory, Escalante advances to the Class 2A state championship football game for the fourth time in six years. Escalante has not lost in a state championship game during that time, winning three state championships.

Fort Sumner defeated Lordsburg High School, the defending Class 2A state champions, 64-14 in the other Class 2A semifinal game Nov. 4 at Fort Sumner. The Foxes beat Escalante 35-8 Oct. 27 in Tierra Amarilla during the regular season. Fort Sumner is undefeated (11-0) and ranked first in Class 2A. Escalante is 10-1 and ranked second.