Espanola Pounds Pojoaque

by Staff Reporter / Sep 12, 2017 / comments
Espanola’s Nick Martinez scores one of his three touchdowns in Espanola’s 21-0 victory. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Espanola Pounds Pojoaque

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

The Espanola Valley High School football team doubled its number of wins from last season with a 21-0 victory over local rival Pojoaque Valley High School Sept. 8 at Espanola. With the victory, the Sundevils improved to 2-1 on the season after going 1-9 last season. Pojoaque fell to 0-3 on the season.

The game started with a moderate rain falling and was marred by numerous turnovers. Espanola’s punishing running game proved to be the difference.

Espanola’s 268-pound fullback Nick Martinez pounded out yardage behind the Sundevils big offensive line. Martinez scored all three of Espanola’s touchdowns.

“It feels amazing,” Martinez said. “Words can’t describe the feeling. My line opened up holes for me and did everything for me.”

The Sundevils were driving on their first possession behind the running of tailback DeOndre Curtis, but a fumble by the Sundevils was recovered by Pojoaque at their own 16-yardline to kill the drive. The Elks suffered three five-yard penalties on their ensuing possession that squelched any attempts to get their offense moving. Pojoaque punter Devonn Holmes then fumbled the snap from center and was tackled back at his own 5-yardline to give Espanola an excellent chance to score.

Pojoaque quarterback Devonn Holmes hands off to Bryan Martinez. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

A fumbled snap and a sack by Pojoaque lineman moved the Sundevils backward and quarterback Arlen Garcia was stopped at the Elks’ 4-yardline on fourth down and Pojoaque took over on downs. The Elks were forced to punt and the Sundevils began their next drive at the Pojoaque 34-yard line.

A pass to Curtis picked up yardage and a grabbing-the-face-mask penalty on Pojoaque tacked on 15 yards. A run by Curtis gave the Sundevils first-and-goal at the 8-yard line. From there, Martinez bulled his way to the end zone. Curtis ran for the two-point conversion and Espanola led 8-0 at 2:28 of the first quarter.

Later in the second quarter, the Sundevils defense stopped Pojoaque on downs at their own 24-yard line and took over on downs. Martinez burst up the middle and powered his way past midfield. A penalty on Pojoaque on fourth down and a yard to go gave Espanola a first down. From there, Martinez, Curtis and Garcia ran the ball down to the two-yard line. From there, Martinez bulled into the end zone for the touchdown at 5:44 of the second quarter. The point after kick was no good and Espanola led 14-0.

That was all the scoring in the first half. Pojoaque got the ball to start the second half, but couldn’t move the ball. Espanola put together a drive that reached Pojoaque’s 33-yardline, but two incomplete passes and a penalty killed that drive and Pojoaque took over on downs. The Elks couldn’t move once more and punted to Espanola.

The Sundevils pulled a play out of their bag of tricks. Quarterback Garcia pitched to tailback Markus Griego, who then heaved a pass downfield to a streaking Jacob Trujillo, who ran under the ball and caught it for a 40-yard gain.

Trujillo, a backup quarterback, had been moved to wide receiver for the game.

“I thought it was way over me,” Trujillo said. “I was able to run up the field, reach up and get it. I like it (wide receiver) a lot better than quarterback.”

From there, Martinez, Garcia and Damian Velasquez went to work. Espanola pounded the ball on the ground down to the one-yard line. Martinez bulled into the end zone from there for his third touchdown. Saul Salgado booted the extra point and Espanola led 21-0 at 1:02 of the third quarter.

The Elks best chance to score came in the fourth quarter. Pojoaque used a nice gain on a  pass in the flat from quarterback Isaiah Rodriguez to Ben Lujan to overcome a third and long. A first down run by Mike ciddio gave Pojoaque a first down. Rodriguez then broke loose on a scramble and headed for the goal line, where he was stopped short of the end zone in a violent collision. It looked good for the Elks , but then a block-in-the-back penalty moved the ball back 20 yards and that killed the drive. Espanola had a 21-0 victory.

The Elks, who had two quarterbacks knocked out of the game, are still looking for their first win.

“They (Espanola) didn’t do anything than what we knew they were going to do,” Pojoaque Coach Jorge Oropeza said. “I have a really young team.”

For Espanola, the road will be rougher looking ahead. The Sundevils face three good teams on the road the next three Fridays. Espanola faces Moriarty High School this Friday (9/15) in Moriarty. The Pintos beat up St. Michael’s High School 41-15 Sept. 8 and hammered Los Alamos High School 46-0 Sept. 1 in Los Alamos.

The Sundevils’ rushing game has proven itself effective when Espanola holds on to the ball.

“When we don’t fumble we can move the ball,” Espanola Coach Jesus Maes said. “We can’t have those mistakes against a good team like Moriarty. We need to clean it up a little.”

Maes praised his defense for holding Pojoaque scoreless.

“I give all the credit to the defense,” Coach Maes said. “These kids were flying around. Playing in unison just like it’s drawn up.”