Escalante rolls over McCurdy

by Staff Reporter / Oct 10, 2017 / comments
Escalante quarterback Cody Russom runs for yardage in the Lobos’ 54-0 victory over McCurdy Oct. 7 at McCurdy. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Escalante rolls over McCurdy

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

The Escalante High School Lobos turned what started out looking like a competitive game into a full blown rout by taking advantage of mistakes by McCurdy’s offense. After leading 14-0 in the first quarter, Escalante returned a punt for a touchdown, then converted three McCurdy turnovers into three easy touchdowns to lead 42-0 at halftime. Escalante rolled to a 54-0 victory Oct. 7 at McCurdy. The game ended with seconds left in the third quarter under the 50-point mercy rule.

“We played a horrible first quarter,” Escalante Coach Dusty Giles said. “I had to burn a couple of timeouts just to get after them. It’s the second Saturday game in a row we’ve come out flat.”

The Lobos drew first blood. Cody Russom, replacing an injured Esteban Archuleta at quarterback, scrambled 12 yards into the end zone at 6:37 of the first quarter. McCurdy was forced to punt on its next possession. The Bobcats got a great roll on the kick and it was downed on the one-yard line.

Escalante moved the ball out to their own 20-yard line after a run by Russom. On the next play, the Lobos fumbled and McCurdy recovered. The Bobcats were in business deep in Escalante territory.

After a 9-yard run by Ernesto Martinez, the Bobcats had just a yard to go for a first down. After an incomplete pass in the end zone. McCurdy still had just a yard to go for a fresh set of downs.

Oddly, the Bobcats chose to pass on third down and Martinez was sacked for a 9-yard loss. Now forced to throw, Martinez was sacked again on fourth down and Escalante took over on the 25-yard line.

The Lobos drove downfield behind the running and passing of Russom, who finished off the drive with a 25-yard run for a touchdown that gave Escalante a 14-0 lead with just over a minute left in the first quarter.

McCurdy got the ball back and gained some yardage. Then the Bobcats were hit with back-to-back holding penalties and forced to punt. Escalante’s A. J. Blea fielded the ball on the bounce and raced down the right sideline in front of the Escalante sideline behind a wall of blockers for a 70-yard touchdown return, making the score 22-0 after a successful two-point conversion run by Anthony Ulibarri at 8:26 of the second quarter

Escalante’s A. J. Blea fights for yardage after catching a pass from quarterback Cody Russom. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

On McCurdy’s next possession, Martinez completed one pass to Raul Arroyo for a first down. His next pass was a fluttering duck that the Lobos’ Brendon Giles picked off and returned to the Bobcats’ one-yard line. The Lobos punched it in from there and took a 28-0 lead. On McCurdy’s next possession, a harassed Martinez made a desperation pitch towards Brandon Lovato that fell way short and was scooped up by Escalante defensive lineman Johnny Samora, who rumbled into the end zone for another score. That made the score 34-0 in favor of the Lobos.

McCurdy’s Brandon Lovato looks for running room against Escalante. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

When it rains, it pours and the Bobcats were drowning in their own miscues. On the ensuing kickoff, the ball was knocked out of Arroyo’s hands high into the air. Ryan Allison grabbed it and ran 20 yards into the end zone. All of a sudden, it was 42-0 and the shell-shocked Bobcats were all but finished.

“The second quarter was really phenomenal,” Russom said.

With a running clock to start the second half, the Lobos scored on a 16-yard run by Russom to make the score 48-0 at 7:54 of the third quarter. On McCurdy’s next possession, Arroyo dropped back to punt. He drilled the ball right into an onrushing lineman and it was recovered at McCurdy’s 8-yard line. Ulibarri ran for the game-ending touchdown from there with 25 seconds left in the game.

Russom had done a fine job in his first game at quarterback. It hadn’t taken him long to learn the Lobos’ offense.

‘Our offense is pretty easy to get used to,” he said. ‘I’d never thrown a pass in a game before. I still have a lot of things to improve on. I’ll play wherever they put me because I just enjoy playing.”

Archuleta is recovering from an ankle injury, but he will be back. Coach Giles declined to say when. The Class 2A Lobos face a much bigger opponent Friday (10/13) when they take on Class 6A Santa Fe High School. The Demons are playing this season as an independent and trying to rebuild a program that is mired in a 31-game losing streak. Santa Fe will be celebrating its Homecoming. The Lobos are looking forward to the challenge. They cannot afford to come out and play in the first quarter against Santa Fe like they did against McCurdy.

“We need to come out all fired up and ready to play ball,” Coach Giles said. ‘It’s a pretty cool deal for us and we’re pleased to have that game. It’s the only time I can even think of where a school from the smallest Class (2A) has played a school from the biggest Class (6A).”

The Lobos, who spoiled McCurdy’s Homecoming, have already beaten two Class 5A teams (Espanola Valley High School, Albuquerque Academy) and a Class 4A school (Pojoaque Valley High School) this season. They are looking forward to facing another bigger opponent.

“It should be a pretty fun game,” Russom said.