Rams are a perfect 10
BLACKWATER DRAW — In Portales’ quest for its first ever 10-0 regular season, it was the unexpected players who stepped up and allowed the Rams to defeat the NMMI Colts 26-7 on Friday night in the District 4-4A and regular-season finale for both teams.
Seldom-used wide receiver Michael Fox came up big for the Rams in the third quarter. With Portales leading 13-7 and facing fourth-and-15, quarterback Junior Ramirez scrambled out of a bootleg and found Fox for a 20-yard completion to give the Rams first-and-goal at the NMMI 5.
“I saw that Junior was running and waved to him,” Fox said. “All the pressure near me went towards Junior. I know the ball doesn’t come to some of us a lot, so when I saw the ball I just focused on catching it.”
Ramirez called his own number three plays later and scored to put the Rams up 19-7 and give them some breathing room.
link Staff photo: Tony Bullocks
Portales junior quarterback Junior Ramirez prepares to launch a deep pass while senior tackle Adam Hernandez provides protection during Friday’s District 4-4A matchup against New Mexico Military at Blackwater Draw. The top-ranked, unbeaten Rams posted a 26-7 victory.
The first half seemed eerily similar to the previous week against St. Michael’s. Portales had no problem marching down the field on its opening possession for a quick rushing score.
However, NMMI (7-3, 1-3) came back with a 44-yard touchdown pass from Gavin Maloney to Randal Major which tied the game at 7. The score wouldn’t change again until the second half.
“We weren’t executing our offense very well in the first half,” Portales coach Jaime Ramirez said. “We challenged the guys to play like they’ve been doing all year. They came out in the third quarter and did a great job.”
This was the first time this season that neither Bronte Staugaard nor Junior Ramirez gained at least 100 yards on the ground. Staugaard ran 19 times for 64 yards and two touchdowns while Ramirez had 20 rushes for 93 yards and a score.
The Rams’ defense stepped up in the second half and made life difficult for NMMI quarterback Gavin Maloney. Maloney finished the first half 3-for-5 for 72 yards and one touchdown pass, but went just 1-for-11 in the final two stanzas with only a 48-yard, with the one completion covering 48 yards.
Trailing 26-7 with less than five minutes left, the Colts had a chance to cut into the lead as they drove into Portales territory. But Maloney’s third-down pass was intercepted by linebacker Jacob Salgado, who returned the ball to the NMMI 7-yard line and allow the Rams to eat up more clock
“Coach always tells us to keep our eyes on the receivers and read the play,” Salgado said. “I got the pick, (but) I couldn’t take it to the house because speed’s not a big thing for me.”
With Hatch Valley also finishing the regular season at 10-0, the Rams and xxxx will earn first-round byes next week in the 12-team Class 4A playoffs.
Even with an extra week between games, Jaime Ramirez said he doesn’t plan to change the team’s routine.
“It’s business as usual,” he said. “We’re back on the field Monday and practicing like any other week.”