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Big plays lift Santa Rosa past Wolverines

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TEXICO — The Texico Wolverines dominated most of the night against the rival Santa Rosa Lions.

With one gigantic exception.

link Staff photo: Kevin Wilson

Texico junior Tanner Dickerman holds onto the ball as he is brought down by Santa Rosa defender Isaac Velasquez in the second half of Friday’s game at Texico.

Lions senior Isaac Velasquez pulled football’s equivalent of hitting for the cycle, with a kickoff return touchdown, a rushing touchdown, a receiving touchdown and a defensive touchdown as the Lions left Texico’s Field of Dreams with a 25-12 shocker.

Santa Rosa (1-0) managed six first downs all night and gained 90 yards in the second half, but never trailed thanks to Velasquez’s 88-yard kickoff return to open the game and 65-yard TD reception with 2:13 to go.

It was Santa Rosa’s only completion of the night on just two passes.

“When you run into a defense as aggressive as Texico, your kids have to be able to make plays, and fortunately we did,” Santa Rosa coach Mario Trujillo said. “At the same time, we’ve got a lot of improving to do.”

Velasquez, who also had a 7-yard run to stake the Lions to an early 12-0 lead, sealed matters when he picked off Texico’s Justin Rucker and went 30 yards to the house with 1:38 left.

In a tight ballgame that seemed to scream, “Overtime,” the Lions faced third and 5 with 2:30 left when Dante Torello lofted a pass down the right sideline.

It dropped right in the hands of Velasquez, who had gotten 10 yards behind the Wolverine defense.

Up until that point, Texico was dominating the second half in yardage, 98-29 after a relatively even first half.

“We knew it was coming, and that’s my fault,” Texico coach Ryan Autrey said. “I didn’t prepare the kids the way they needed for that play. They made a great throw, they made a great catch, and they caught us off guard.”

For the game, Texico outgained the Lions 252-235 behind a 26-carry, 154-yard night from 5-foot-10, 215-pound sophomore Mason Golden.

Trujillo, whose team faces Albuquerque Academy next week, said the matchup means something even though realignment has placed the longtime rivals in different districts.

“It’s a rivalry game; Santa Rosa-Texico doesn’t disappoint,” Trujillo said. “It’s always a tough game, and you’ve got to make sure you stay to the end.”

Rucker completed 3-of-10 passes, with a desperation heave intercepted in the final seconds, while rushing for 60 yards and a 4-yard touchdown in the third that knotted the game at 12.

Texico hosts Tucumcari, another former district foe, next week.