The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Dave Wagner
Staff writer 

Sartans outlast Rams


Last updated 9/18/2021 at 4:35pm

Jordan Alexander

Elijah Kladiihbah gets to the outside on a run in Friday's game against St. Pius.

PORTALES - Still looking for their first win of the season, things haven't generally bounced the right way so far for the Portales High Rams.

Friday night, PHS went down to the wire with St. Pius in a rematch of the team's New Mexico Activities Association "bowl" matchup in the spring, won by Portales 6-0 with a late score.

This time, the Albuquerque-based Sartans escaped with a 21-20 victory at Greyhound Stadium behind 160 rushing yards and two touchdowns from senior running back Marco Ybarra.

The teams traded scores throughout, with the Sartans (3-2) answering each of Portales' three touchdowns with one of their own.

"We could be 5-0 or we could be 0-5," St. Pius coach David Montoya said. "I think we played better defense than we have all season long, but we need to get better at some things."

The Sartans managed to overcome 15 penalties for 153 yards. Five were personal-foul/unsportsmanlike conduct fouls, including one which led to a player ejection.

Meantime, the Rams (0-4) completed a three-game homestand which included a pair of losses that were nailbiters.

"I knew they were a good football team," Portales coach Jaime Ramirez said. "I knew we'd have to play really good to beat them."

A missed extra point was the difference. That kick was made tougher by a dead-ball unsportsmanlike penalty on the touchdown which moved the attempt 15 yards back.

Portales gave itself a final chance with 5 1/2 minutes left when, after the Sartans had earned a first-and-goal at the 3, the Rams stopped them on downs inside the 1.

"That defensive stand was big-time," Ramirez said. "They stepped up and gave the offense an opportunity to win the ballgame. We just came up a little bit short."

Starting from that point, the Rams picked up three first downs to reach the St. Pius 38. But on fourth-and-6 at the 34, Sartans senior linebacker Joaquin Medina sacked Rams QB Devin Diaz from behind for a 10-yard loss with just over a minute left.

Ybarra was the difference-maker, constantly pounding inside for yardage.

"We ran him a lot tonight (34 carries)," Montoya said. "He's kind of a workhorse. How he goes is normally kind of how we go."

Ybarra scored on a 13-yard run in the first quarter, then capped a 10-play, 59-yard march with a 3-yard run late in the third period for a 21-20 lead.

Diaz got the game's first score on a 5-yard run, and later threw TD passes of 40 yards to senior Eric Ramirez and 20 to sophomore Elijah Kladiihbah, the latter giving the Rams a 20-14 advantage midway through the third segment.

Diaz rushed for 70 yards for the Rams, and completed 10-of-20 passes - to seven different receivers - for 99 yards.

Senior running back Braydon Mignard sustained a shoulder injury during the first quarter and was limited the rest of the way. Ramirez said Mignard would be examined on Monday.

On Saturday, the Rams make their second trip to Albuquerque this season when they face Rio Grande in a 1 p.m. kickoff.


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