Escalante Beats The Sundevils 8-0

Espanola Sundevils played in Escalante against the Lobos. Photo by George Morse with the Valley Daily Post

Escalante Beats The Sundevils 8-0

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

Escalante High School scored a touchdown on their first possession of the game, added a two-point conversion and made it stand up, shutting out the Espanola Valley High School Sundevils for an 8-0 victory Sept. 2 in Tierra Amarilla.

“We had the mentality that we had to hit’m in the mouth right away,” Escalante running back Diego Aguilar said.

After covering the opening kickoff at their own 36-yard line, the Lobos ground out three first downs behind the running of Aguilar and quarterback Tristan Martinez. With a first down at the Espanola 27-yard line, the Lobos reached the 11-yard line after a run by Martinez.

Two more running plays failed to move the ball. On third down, Martinez dropped back to pass and fired a dart down the middle that Waylon Hinds snatched out of the air in the end zone for a touchdown.

“They were keying on the run,” Hinds said. “We thought we could hit them over the top.”

Aguilar ran for the two-point conversion out of the swinging gate formation. The Lobos led 8-0 at 4:37 of the first quarter.

During the drive, Espanola running back Tommy Trujillo reinjured a knee that he had injured in a preseason scrimmage. He did not return to the game.

Escalante pinned the Sundevils deep in their own territory on the ensuing kickoff when  Joseph Martinez’s kick sailed over the head of Jaime Membreno. Membreno chased the ball down, but was tackled at his own three-yard line.

The Lobos held the Sundevils on three downs, but Espanola was given a second chance when the Lobos were called for roughing the kicker on a fourth-down punt. The Sundevils started to pick up yardage on the ground and a big run by Membreno moved the ball into Escalante territory. That drive stalled after a three-yard loss, an incomplete pass and a fumbled snap from center.

Forced to punt again, it looked like Espanola would again get a break when Espanola’s punter was again knocked down. This time the penalty was running into the kicker, just five yards instead of 15 yards. It was not enough for a first down, so Espanola punted again.

The snap from center sailed over the head of Espanola’s punter and the resulting 12-yard loss gave the Lobos good field position near midfield.

Quarterback Tristan Martinez went deep on the Lobos’ next play, connecting with Anthony Martinez for a 35-yard gain. After two running plays and a penalty, Escalante had first-and-goal at the seven-yard line.

Espanola came up with a big defensive play, forcing a fumble that the Sundevils recovered at their own six-yard line. Espanola once again started their next drive deep in their own territory.

Keeping the ball on the ground, the Sundevils moved the ball into Escalante territory. After 12 straight running plays, the Sundevils tried to go to the air. The surprise move backfired, as Escalante’s deep safety Tristan Martinez wasn’t fooled and intercepted quarterback JoeRey Manzanares’ pass, killing the promising drive.

The Sundevils moved the ball on offense between the 20-yard lines throughout the game. Espanola ran 55 plays to the Lobos’ 40 and had more first downs (15) than Escalante (13), but couldn’t find the end zone.

With Escalante leading 8-0 at halftime, both teams failed to score in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, the Sundevils started a drive at their own 20-yard line.

A big run by Armando Gonzales, in at tailback after Membreno did not suit up for the second half due too a shot to the head, moved the ball past midfield. Two plays later, Manzanares ran a quarterback keeper. Cutting back across the field, he raced down to Escalante’s five-yard line. The Sundevils were just five yards away from the end zone with a first down.

The Sundevils shot themselves in the foot before they even ran a play. An Espanola player raced onto the field late and the Sundevils were penalized five yards, moving the ball back to the 10-yard line. On first down, a rollout pass by Manzanares fell incomplete.

Two quarterback keepers by Manzanares gained only a yard. On fourth down, Manzanares’ pass was incomplete and the Lobos’ defense had held. Escalante was deep in its own territory.

After a run by Tristan Martinez lost yardage and the Lobos faced a third down with 11 yards to go for a first down, it appeared Espanola would get the ball back in good field position. Worse, Tristan Martinez had been shaken up on the last play and had to leave the game.

Hinds replaced Martinez at quarterback. Taking the snap from center, he took off around the right side of the line. He found plenty of running room without a defender in sight. Hinds raced 53 yards past midfield before the Sundevils could corral him. The Lobos were out of a hole and time was starting to run out on the Sundevils.

“It was a quarterback lead,” Hinds said. “The line did their jobs and blocked it like they should.”

After a holding penalty against the Lobos stalled Escalante’s drive, the Lobos were forced to punt from midfield. Hinds, also Escalante’s punter, launched a high, long kick towards the right coffin corner. He couldn’t have done it better. The ball bounced once and went out of bounds on Espanola’s four-yard line. The Sundevils had the ball, but they were 96 yards away from Escalante’s end zone and out of time outs.

“That was the play of the game,” Escalante Coach Dusty Giles said. “Our special teams really came through for us. They got it done.”

Espanola moved the ball past midfield, but they were fighting a losing battle against the clock. Time ran out on the Sundevils and a final desperation pass fell incomplete. The Lobos claimed the victory.

“Because we want to get better, we need games like this,” Coach Giles said. “We gotta get better on both sides of the ball to get to the level we want to be at.”

The Sundevils fell to 0-2 on the season. Espanola Coach Jesus Maes took full responsibility for the Sundevils being out of time outs when they needed them.

“We’ve still got miles to go, but it was a big improvement since week one,” Coach Maes said. “I should have adjusted my personnel and had better clock management.”

Escalante improved to 2-0 on the season and faces local rival Dulce High School Friday at Dulce. The Hawks haven’t beaten the Lobos since 2011, but are coming off a big 56-22 win over Tohatchi High School after going 0-10 last season.

“I tip my hat to Escalante,” Coach Maes said. “They can play with anybody.”

Espanola faces local rival Pojoaque Valley High School, whom Espanola beat 51-0 last season. Pojoaque was 0-10 last season, but appear to have turned things around. The Elks snapped a long losing streak with a 23-20 win over Hot Springs High School Sept. 2 in Truth or Consequences.

The Sundevils and Elks face each other Friday at Pojoaque.