Pojoaque Gets Breakthrough Win At Homecoming Game

by Staff Reporter / Oct 04, 2017 / comments

Pojoaque freshman quarterback Bryan Martinez carries the ball against Santa Fe Indian School in Pojoaque’s 8-6 victory over the Braves Sept. 29 at Pojoaque. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Pojoaque Gets Breakthrough Win At Homecoming Game

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

The Pojoaque Valley High School football team had scored just eight points in its first five games of the season. The end zone had proved an elusive goal for the Elks, who were looking for their first win of the season at their Homecoming game Sept. 29 at Pojoaque against Santa Fe Indian School.

When senior running back Ben Lujan saw the goal line in front of him, he was determined to reach it.

“Nothing was going to stop me,” Lujan said. ‘”It felt good. It felt great.”

Pojoaque’s Michael Ciddio gets set to stiff-arm a santa Fe Indian School defender. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Lujan crashed into the end zone from 11 yards out to cap a 60-yard drive by the Elks on their first possession of the second half. That gave Pojoaque a 6-0 lead. Pojoaque quarterback Bryan Martinez passed to Michael Ciddio for the two-point conversion and the Elks led 8-0 at 7:22 of the third quarter.

Pojoaque quarterback Bryan Martinez runs for yardage against Santa Fe Indian School. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

The drive started at Pojoaque’s 40-yard line after the Elks’ defense forced Indian School to punt on the Braves’ first possession of the second half. Two big 27-yard runs by sophomore Isaiah Leyba-Moya had given the Elks first-and-goal at the Braves 3-yard line.

 

Pojoaque’s Isaiah Leyba-Moya breaks away for a 27-yard run that led to the game’s first touchdown. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

It looked like Pojoaque would squander the scoring opportunity. The next three plays lost eight yards and the Elks were backed up to their 11-yard line. It was fourth down when Lujan broke through the left side of the line and powered his way into the end zone.

“I just saw the hole the boys up front-my tackle and guard-opened up,” Lujan said. “I ran through that hole as hard as I could. I got great blocks from my receivers.”

The Elks had noticed a weakness on the left side of the Braves’ defense and had exploited it on that drive.

“We noticed that their left side wasn’t strong,” quarterback Martinez said. “We put pressure on their left side.”

Martinez, just a freshman, took over the starting role at quarterback thanks to injuries to Pojoaque’s first two signal callers.

“I started the season at wide receiver,” Martinez said. “I was the third string quarterback. This week they told me I was going to be first string.”

Despite helping his team win their first game of the season, Martinez knows he has work to do. He has his team behind him.

“I threw two interceptions,” Martinez said. “I know I’m going to work a lot on Monday. I’m mostly really close to all the seniors.”

The Pojoaque defense made that 8-0 lead stand up until late in the fourth quarter. On fourth down from the Elks’ one-yard line, Indian School quarterback Matthew Morgan scored on a quarterback keeper with 2:13 left in the game. On what was now a critical two-point conversion try, the Pojoaque defense stuffed a running play behind the line of scrimmage that left the Elks clinging to an 8-6 lead.

Indian School got the ball back with just seconds left in the game. The Braves completed one long pass, but the Elks held on for an 8-6 victory. It was their first win of the season.

The two teams had battled to a scoreless tie 0-0 in the first half. The Elks blocked what would have been a 42-yard field goal by the Braves, while two interceptions by Indian School stopped Pojoaque on a couple of promising drives.

“Defense, that’s our strength,” Lujan said. “That’s what we focus on.”

Pojoaque’s record is now 1-5 and the Elks take on Bernalillo Friday (10/6) at Bernalillo. The Spartans are also 1-5 on the season.

“I’m very proud of them,” Pojoaque Coach Jorge Oropeza said. “We may have been 0-5 but they still showed up for practice. They’re still working hard.”

Pojoaque’s Isaiah Leyba-Moya breaks away from two Santa Fe Indian School tacklers on a 27-yard run that set up the Elks’ first touchdown. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post