Los Alamos Routs Pojoaque Valley 63-24 In Opening Game
By George Morse Sports and Outdoors
The Los Alamos High School Hilltoppers took advantage of four turnovers by the Pojoaque High School Elks to build a 22-0 lead and rolled to a decisive 63-24 victory over the Elks Aug. 26 at Los Alamos in the opening game of the season for both teams.
Pojoaque started the game with a promising drive, only to fumble the ball over to the Hilltoppers near midfield. The Pojoaque defense held the Hilltoppers and forced a Los Alamos punt. The Elks’ Ben lujan fielded the ball on a bounce, but was immediately drilled by a tackler and fumbled. Los Alamos recoveredat Pojoaque’s 25-yard line. Three plays later, Hilltoppers’ quarterback Nick Quartieri n the ball into the end zone from 12 yards out. Travis Gonzales booted the extra point and Los Alamos led 7-0 at 5:21 of the first quarter.
Pojoaque was forced to punt on its next possession and the Hilltoppers took over on their own 40-yard line. Sticking to the ground, Los Alamos drove 60 yards for their next touchdown. Quartieri scored his second touchdown from six yards out. Kevin Maresca ran for the two-point conversion. The Hilltoppers led 15-0 in the first quarter.
A promising Pojoaque drive that began at the Elks own 8-yard line and reached Los Alamos’ 22-yard line ended with another fumble that was recovered by the Hilltoppers. After a 40-yard run by Ryan Miniel and a personal foul on Pojoaque, Quartieri swept around the right side to score his third touchdown from 23 yards out. Another Gonzales’ extra point gave the Hilltoppers a 22-0 lead.
Another Pojoaque Fumble on the Elks’ next drive gave the ball back to Los Alamos. It was the Elks’ turn to take advantage of a turnover. An attempted pitch by Quartieri went awry and the ball was scooped up by defensive back Logan Vigil, who raced down to the Hilltoppers’ 13-yard line. Some nifty running by Pojoaque quarterback Daniel Rael took him into the end zone for the Elks’ first touchdown, making the score 22-6 with 6:12 left in the first half.
Los Alamos began its next drive from their own 44-yard line after they recovered an onside kick by the Elks. The Hilltoppers drove 56 yards for their next touchdown. Dylan Irish scored from four yards out despite an apparent false start on the Hilltoppers. Quartieri’s two-point conversion made the score 30-6.
Another turnover by the Hilltoppers led to the final touchdown of the first half. Quartieri was hit and fumbled. Jonathan Chavez recovered the ball and took off to the end zone. He was tackled just a foot short of the goal line. Nathaniel Manges bulled his way into the end zone for the Elks on the next play, making the score 30-12 at halftime.
After receiving the kickoff to start the third quarter, Los Alamos drove 65 yards for their next touchdown. Quartieri passed to Gonzales, who’d gotten behind the Pojoaque secondary, from 22 yards out to give the Hilltoppers a 37-12 lead.
The Elks were forced to punt on their next possession. Manges couldn’t handle a high snap from the center and tried to punt the ball on the run. He kicked it right into the arms of Josef Sorenson, who returned it into the end zone to give the Hilltoppers a 43-17.
The Elks tried to comeback and scored on their next possession on a fourth-down pass from Rael to Israel (Izzy) Martinez from the 23-yard line to make the score 43-18. However, Maresca broke the backs
of the Elks when he returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown to make the score 50-18 with 3:06 left in the third quarter. The Hilltoppers scored two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter and Pojoaque one for the final score.
Pojoaque takes on Hot Springs High School Sept. 2 in Truth or Consequences. Los Alamos takes on Moriarty High School Sept. 2 at Moriarty