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Panthers edge Durango in late-night thriller, Bobcats roll to 3-0 start


FARMINGTON − Friday night prep football had a little bit of everything for fans of local and area teams.

The Piedra Vista Panthers overcame a nearly two-hour delay to earn a big win at home over Durango, while Farmington went on the road and pulled out a stunning win over Los Lunas.

Meantime, the Bloomfield Bobcats kept on rolling, remaining unbeaten on the season with a home rout over Grants. The Aztec Tigers scored a narrow win at home over Bayfield in a game that was called late in the third quarter due to weather conditions.

Here's a look at gridiron action across San Juan County.

PIEDRA VISTA 14, Durango 13

The Piedra Vista High School football team scored a hard-fought decision Friday night at Hutchison Stadium, narrowly topping Durango 14-13 and improving to 3-0 for the first time since 2016.

Overcoming a nearly 2-hour delay late in the third quarter as well as a punishing rushing attack by the Demons, Piedra Vista got scoring plays from Jacob Ramsted in the first half and a third quarter touchdown pass from Logan Howell to Dax Vigil to earn the win. Durango came into the game off a season-opening romp at home last weekend over Farmington and were the top-ranked team in Colorado's Class 3A classification according to MaxPreps.

"This was exactly the kind of game we expected from each other," head coach Jared Howell said after the game. "We beat a really good, well-disciplined team tonight."

The difference on the scoreboard came down to a decision by Durango coach Todd Casebier to go for a 2-point conversion following what would have been a game-tying score early in fourth quarter, which came about after a long delay that began in the waning moments of the third quarter.

The game was halted for nearly two hours after lightning strikes were spotted in the area around the stadium. The delay was protracted after electrical issues prevented the lights around the stadium from functioning properly. The teams left the field with 42.1 seconds remaining in the third quarter at 9:22 p.m. and Durango in possession of the ball.

By the time the game got restarted, the time was 11:20 p.m. The Demons continued to march down the field, as their running game was starting to get an edge. Senior Jeric Baruch scored from a yard out to trim the Panthers lead to 14-13 early in the fourth quarter.

Durango opted to go for a 2-point conversion, which would have given the Demons the lead. Instead, the run play off the edge of the line came up a yard short, preserving the Panthers lead, which would prove to be the final score.

"Our defense all night stepped up with big plays," Howell said after the game, which ended shortly before midnight. "Those kids faced a real battle all night and made every play they needed to."

The winning score came about on the opening drive of the second half when Logan Howell found Dax Vigil breaking free of his defender in the middle of the field for a 40-yard touchdown pass. That touchdown broke a 7-7 tie with 9:45 left to go in the third quarter.

"That was a pretty play," Howell said. "Those two have really fallen into a trust that they'll be there to make plays."

The Panthers also came up big defensively, forcing a pair of Demons turnovers and stalling drives when it appeared Durango was starting to exert their will with a punishing ground game that ran for more 200 yards on the night.

Senior Jacob Schrueder was one of several standouts on the Panthers. He made a couple of catches to extend drives as well as preventing Durango from scoring early in the game, driving wide receiver JJ Hoerl out of the end zone as he was about to give the Demons an early lead on a passing play on their opening drive.

"(Shrueder) still is figuring out how good he can be," Howell said after the game. "He made some plays tonight that really had a huge impact."

The Demons had one final opportunity in the game's closing minutes in a drive that started at midfield, but were pushed backwards when Reed McCarty made a huge play, nearly bringing down Harms as he was attempting to get rid of the ball. The play resulted in an intentional grounding call, putting the ball back on their own 31. Facing fourth and 29, Harms was picked off by Schrueder, effectively ending the game.

The Panthers, coming off emotionally charged wins in each of their last two games, face a quick turnaround before a Thursday night home game against Eldorado. Last week, Piedra Vista held off Sandia, one of the top-ranked teams in New Mexico's Class 6A. Their last two victories have been by a combined margin of three points.

More:Postgame chat Piedra Vista head football coach Jared Howell

"This is how we prove our resiliency, our heart," Howell said. "We overcame a lot to get this win, so now it's important to build off that."

FARMINGTON 26, Los Lunas 11

Quarterback Trel Griego threw for three scores and ran for another as the Farmington High School football team earned their first win of the season, going on the road and knocking off Los Lunas by a final of 26-11.

The win over the Tigers, who came into the game as the fourth-ranked team in the state at Class 6A, couldn't have come at a better time for the Scorpions after losses in their first two games, opening with a loss against Piedra Vista followed by a loss on the road against Durango.

Griego threw a pair of scoring strikes to Michael Beck in the first half, giving the Scorpions a 12-3 lead heading into the locker room. After the Tigers narrowed the advantage to 12-11 midway through the third quarter, Griego tossed a touchdown pass to Jevon Smith in the waning minutes of the third before putting the win on ice with a touchdown run of his own in the fourth quarter.

The Tigers played the game without quarterback and the team's leading scorer Paul Cieremans, who was injured last weekend during a victory over Alamogordo.

Friday's win is the second consecutive win for Farmington over Los Lunas. The teams last met in the 2017 Class 5A state playoffs, when the Scorpions rolled at home over the Tigers 41-14.

Farmington (1-2) will be home Saturday at 1 p.m. as they seek their second win of the season in a homecoming game against Cibola. The Cougars are off to a 3-0 start after beating West Mesa on Friday by a final of 35-28.

BLOOMFIELD 43, Grants 0

The Bloomfield High School football team got a pair of touchdown passes from quarterback Ryan Sharpe as they rolled to a 43-0 victory at home, improving the Bobcats record to 3-0 on the season.

Sharpe threw for 128 yards while completing seven of 12 passes, including scoring strikes to Peyton Duncan and Andrew Bair. Jesse Seitzinger added a pair of rushing touchdowns while gaining 92 yards in the contest, which was effectively over after Bloomfield led 28-0 early in the second quarter.

The Bobcats, ranked third in the state in last week's Class 4A MaxPreps poll, have outscored their most recent opponents by a combined margin of 99-6. Last weekend, Bloomfield rolled at home over Pojoaque Valley 56-6.

"I was real happy with the way we executed," said Bloomfield head coach Mike Kovacs. "The offensive line did a great job protecting the passer and opening running lanes, the defense made big plays. It was a solid, all-around effort."

The Bobcats will hit the road Saturday for a highly anticipated game against Albuquerque Academy, who have won each of their first two games of the season and are ranked second in the state at Class 4A. Bloomfield beat the Chargers 35-21 last year.

"That's going to be a big game for both teams," Kovacs said. "I think we're in a really good place and this will be a good test to see how prepared we are going forward."

AZTEC 12, Bayfield 7

The Aztec High School football team earned their second win of the season, edging Bayfield 12-7 Friday night at Fred Cook Memorial Stadium.

The game was halted in waning moments of the third quarter due to lightning and rain, which paused the game for a time before officials and teams agreed to call the contest.

Trailing 7-0 midway through the first quarter, Aztec got on the board when Tristen McNeal ran a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown. Neither team was able to get much going offensively in the first half, as penalties plagued both squads.

The Tigers got the lead late in the third quarter as lightning drew near the stadium. Marcquis Henry scored from a yard out to give the Tigers a 12-7 lead. The touchdown was the culmination of a strong drive which featured big running plays from Baylor Seabolt and Jacob Greyeyes.

The game was delayed approaching 9 p.m. with lightning strikes in the immediate area and was officially called shortly before 9:30 p.m.

Aztec (2-1) will be home on Friday to face off against Durango.