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Panthers, Broncos and Tigers all fall short in football playoffs


Local teams outscored 96-16 in three football games on Saturday

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FARMINGTON — It was a rough opening weekend for local teams in the New Mexico Activities Association's 2021 State Football Championships.

Kirtland Central, Aztec and Piedra Vista all came up short Saturday in their first round games and were eliminated from the tournament.

Those losses came one day after Navajo Prep lost the opening round game to Hope Christian on Friday night.

Here's a look back at the Saturday playoff football slate involving San Juan County teams.  

Class 5A Playoffs

SANTA TERESA 21, Piedra Vista 0

The Santa Teresa Desert Warriors came up big defensively and did enough on offense to stifle Piedra Vista, shutting out the Panthers 21-0 Saturday afternoon at Santa Teresa High School.

The victory extends Santa Teresa's season to a quarterfinal game in the Class 5A State Football Championships this coming weekend at Hutchison Stadium to face the top-seeded Farmington Scorpions. 

Senior running back Adrian Rodriguez scored the game's opening touchdown on a 2-yard burst up the middle in the second quarter while senior running back Ivan Reyes closed out the scoring in the fourth quarter. Meantime, Santa Teresa's defense came up big throughout the game, stifling Piedra Vista's offense to the point where they didn't have more than 100 total yards until the fourth quarter of the game.

More: Three teams hit the road for playoff football matchups Saturday afternoon

The Desert Warriors shut down Piedra Vista's passing game, and limited rushing opportunities by Panthers running backs throughout the game.

Rodriguez came into the contest having gained nearly 750 yards all season and proved to be too elusive for the Panthers defense. In addition to his second quarter touchdown, Rodriguez also broke a long run later in the second quarter, gaining 62 yards on a play putting the Desert Warriors inside the red zone. The drive ended however, when Santa Teresa turned the ball over themselves deep in Panthers territory.

Rodriguez, for the game, had 17 carries for 148 yards while junior running back Angel Hernandez also had a big game, rushing for 122 yards on 13 carries.

Santa Teresa (9-2 overall) led the game 7-0 at the half, but the score could have been much more in favor of the Desert Warriors, who failed to convert on multiple opportunities after Panther turnovers.

The Desert Warriors expanded on their lead late in the third quarter when the Panthers were lined up to punt deep in their own territory. The snap from center sailed over the head of Jacob Ramsted and was recovered in the end zone by Santa Teresa, giving them a 14-0 lead shortly before the start of the fourth quarter.

Reyes added the finishing touch midway through the fourth quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run to make the score 21-0.

Piedra Vista's season comes to an end with a record of 6-5.

For more information on the Class 5A State Football Championships, including updated brackets and schedules, check out the official website.

Class 4A Playoffs

RUIDOSO 35, Aztec 7

The Ruidoso Warriors jumped on top of the Aztec Tigers early, scoring twice in less than six minutes of the opening quarter Saturday on their way to a dominant 35-7 win the first round of the Class 4A State Football Championships at Ruidoso High School.

The win ends the season for the Tigers, while the Warriors move on in the Class 4A bracket, where they will be on the road this weekend to face St. Pius.

Junior Cooper Pritchett threw for a score and ran for another while seniors Griffin Hooker and Braxton Hall kept the Tigers defense on their heels, carrying the ball a combined 27 times for 120 rushing yards and three scores.

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The Tigers were forced to play catchup nearly right out of the gate. After Aztec turned the ball over on the opening drive, Hooker capped off the short drive with a three-yard touchdown run. Another Aztec turnover cost them dearly later in the quarter after the Hall scored from eight yards out, putting Ruidoso up 14-0 midway through the opening quarter.

Aztec starting quarterback Marcquis Henry was under siege much of the game, throwing three interceptions and being forced out of the pocket multiple times. Henry did have one touchdown in the game, a 55-yard strike to Tristen McNeal late in the first quarter which narrowed Ruidoso's lead to 14-7 entering the second quarter.

Ruidoso's offense ran a methodical drive to expand on their lead in the second quarter. The Warriors capped off a 15-play drive with a one-yard scoring run by Pritchett, giving them a 21-7 lead and chewing up more than seven minutes of the clock. 

The Warriors closed out the first half with a 78-yard touchdown pass from Pritchett to Mikey Sandoval as the Warriors took a 28-7 lead into the locker room.

Ruidoso (6-5) added to their margin early in the fourth quarter when Hooker ran off the edge into the end zone for an eight-yard score.

Meantime, Aztec's offense was stuck in stall mode after their lone touchdown. The Tigers committed two more turnovers in the second half before injuries to Henry and McNeal forced both of them to the sidelines.

Henry was replaced at quarterback by sophomore Landan Frost, who threw an interception of his own midway through the fourth quarter.

Aztec's season comes to an end with a record of 3-8.

SILVER 40, Kirtland Central 9

The Silver Fighting Colts dominated the Kirtland Central Broncos on both sides of the ball Saturday afternoon, winning their first round Class 4A State Football Championships by a final of 40-9 at Silver City High School.

The win advances Silver into the quarterfinals and a road trip this weekend to face top-seeded Lovington.

The win over Kirtland is the second this season for Silver, a team that beat the Broncos 28-21 in the season opener for both teams 28-21 on Aug. 20 at Kirtland Central High School.

More: 2021 New Mexico high school football playoffs schedule, scores

The Fighting Colts led the game 21-3 at the half before padding their margin in the third and fourth quarters.

Kirtland Central's season comes an end with a record of 5-6.

For more information about the Class 4A State Football Championships, including the updated bracket, visit the official NMAA website.

Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680.