Fort Sumner Outfoxes Lobos, Defeats Escalante 35-8

by Staff Reporter / Oct 30, 2017 / comments
Escalante quarterback Cody Russom hands off to running back Anthony Ulibarri. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Fort Sumner Outfoxes Lobos, Defeats Escalante 35-8

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

It was the showdown that will precede the showdown when Fort Sumner High School, undefeated and ranked first in the state, took on the also undefeated Escalante High School Lobos. The Lobos were ranked second in the state. When the two teams met on the gridiron Oct. 27 in Tierra Amarilla, it was more than likely a preview of the Class 2A state championship football game that will be played Nov. 11 in Fort Sumner.

This time, it was the Foxes who prevailed 35-8 over the Lobos. Taking advantage of two early turnovers by Escalante, Fort Sumner built a 14-0 lead. Following an interception by the Foxes, quarterback Jude Segura scored the game’s first touchdown on a keeper at 5:02 of the first quarter. Kreston Butterfield booted the first of his five extra points to give Fort Sumner a 7-0 lead.

The Lobos were moving the ball on their next possession thanks to a 35-yard run by quarterback Cody Russom.  Escalante fumbled at Fort Sumner’s 41-yard line and the Foxes recovered to stop the drive. Segura marched his team downfield, mixing passing plays with running plays. Six plays later, the Foxes had first-and goal at the Escalante 8-yardline.

Escalante quarterback Cody Russom pulls the ball away from running back Anthony Ulibarri and keeps it against Fort Sumner. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

After an incomplete pass, Segura hit Brant West with a touchdown pass. Another Butterfield kick made the score 14-0 at 11:53 of the second quarter.

The Lobos answered on their next possession. Escalante’s speed option gave the Foxes fits. Russom would either pitch the ball to running back Anthony Ulibarri or keep it himself. After a grabbing the face mask penalty on the Foxes, a 14-yard run by Ulibarri moved the ball into Fort Sumner territory. A blow to the helmet penalty on Fort Sumner moved the ball even deeper into Foxes’ territory. Another 14-yard run by Ulibarri moved the ball down to Fort Sumner’s 12-yard line. Three plays later, Escalante had first-and-goal at the one-yard line.

Russom scored from there on a keeper. Ulibarri ran for the two-point conversion to make the score 14-8 at 1:50 of the second quarter.

With time running out in the first half, Segura marched his team downfield. He completed passes of 15 yards to Butterfield, and 35 yards to Francisco Chavez. From the 20-yard line, Segura lofted a pass to West in the corner of the end zone. The 6-foot, 5-inch West outreached the shorter Escalante defensive back for the ball for a touchdown with 7.3 seconds left in the first half. Butterfield’s kick made the score 21-8 at halftime.

Escalante’s Anthony Paul Martinez carries the ball around the end for the Lobos. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Fort Sumner received the second half kickoff. A holding penalty, followed by two five-yard illegal procedure penalties, moved the ball back inside the Foxes’ 10-yard line. Fort Sumner moved the ball towards midfield, but was forced to punt.

Escalante couldn’t move the ball and the Foxes blocked an Escalante punt that they recovered at the Lobos’ 30-yard line. The Escalante defense stiffened and forced the Foxes to attempt a field goal. Butterfield’s 36-yard attempt hit the right upright and was no good.

Escalante quarterback Cody Russom gets ready to pitch the ball to his running back as the Fort Sumner defense closes in. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Escalante took over on their own 20-yardline and Russom reeled off a 15-yard run. However, he limped toward the sidelines and then lay on the field. He was unable to plant his leg and cut thanks to a weakness in his knee. He would leave the field and not return to action. He was replaced at quarterback by freshman Brendon Giles.

“It was unfortunate,” Escalante Coach Dusty Giles said. “We were down to our third-string quarterback, a freshman.”

Coach Giles said he “erred on the side of caution” keeping Russom from returning to the game. He expects Russom will play in the Lobos next game. Esteban Archuleta, who was Escalante’s first-string quarterback before being injured against Jal High School Sept. 29, could also be ready to return for the Lobos in the Class 2A state football playoffs.

The Escalante offense ground to a halt. Fort Sumner rode the arm of Segura to two more touchdowns. His passes, one a 45-yard rope to tight end Peyton Lewis, set up the next two scores. Butterfield scored on a 2-yard run at 9:43 of the fourth quarter and Segura took it in from 6 yards out with 4:37 left in the game for the final score. Butterfield booted the extra point after both touchdowns, making him 5-for-5 on the night on extra-point kicks. After each of Fort Sumner’s touchdowns, Butterfield booted the ensuing kickoffs into the end zone, preventing Escalante from making any kind of a return. The Foxes threatened to score again as the game clock wound down. Segura took a knee on the final play of the game to give the Foxes a 35-8 victory.

Escalante turned the ball over four times (two fumbles, an interception, a blocked punt) and Fort Sumner had no turnovers.

“You’re not going to beat the number one team in the state with four turnovers,” Coach Giles said. “Those things are correctable and we’ll do our best to correct them.”

It was a satisfying victory for the Foxes. Fort Sumner Coach Brad Holland acknowledged that he expects to play Escalante again and that it will be a new ball game when they do.

“Now, it’s the playoffs,” Coach Holland said. “Everybody’s 0-0. It was a good win for us. We’re gonna see them again. (Escalante) is a very good team and they’re very well coached.”

Although defeated, the Lobos were looking forward to the next time they face Fort Sumner.

“We didn’t show them anything,” Ulibarri said. “We’ll be working on stuff. You’ll see. The state championship-that’s the big game.”

Fort Sumner has a tradition of winning state football championships. There are 10 state championship banners at Fort Sumner’s gym. Escalante is well on its way to establishing its own tradition with three state championships in five years.

“I’ve got a group of kids who play for one another and respect their opponents,” Coach Holland said.

In the playoffs, first-seeded Fort Sumner will face fourth-seeded Lordsburg High School either Friday (11/3) or Saturday (11/4) in Fort Sumner. Second-seeded Escalante will play third-seeded Jal High School Saturday (11/4) at Escalante. The winners will square off in the Class 2A state championship game Nov. 11. If it’s Escalante against Fort Sumner, the game will be at Fort Sumner.

Coach Giles cautions against taking Jal lightly. Although Escalante beat Jal 43-22 during the regular season, the Panthers scored all of their points in the fourth quarter.

“I remember for two years we beat Questa during the regular season easily,” Coach Giles said. “In the playoffs, they took us down to the wire. You never take Jal lightly. I expect a good, hard-hitting football game.”