Americas wasn’t beautiful to the Rio Rancho High football team on Friday night.
Visiting El Paso Americas High came up from the West Texas town of El Paso and defeated the Rams 33-21in a sloppy game played in intermittent light rain.
In losing their first game since the end of the 2013 season, last year’s New Mexico state champions didn’t have an offensive series without some sort of negative play (run for loss, sack or penalty) until the middle of the fourth quarter. By that time the visiting Trailblazers had pretty much put the game away.
Americas, one of El Paso’s newest high schools, used a 43-yard interception return by P.J. Turner and two field goals by Adam Cruz to build a 13-0 lead at halftime. The second field goal was an amazing kick, a booming 450yarder into a strong cross wind that curved back between the goal posts and cleared the uprights by perhaps five yards.
It could have been worse for Rio Rancho, but a second interception returned for a touchdown on the last play of the half was called back for an illegal blocking penalty.
Americas stopped Rio Rancho on the first series of the second half and added another score to build a 19-point lead. The Rams did come back on the ensuing drive, overcoming a holding penalty to get on the board on a one-yard run by fullback Elijah Goodwin.
Rio Rancho did bring some life back into the handful of spectators who braved the elements by recovering the onside kick, but two rushing plays for losses and two incompletions thwarted that small burst of momentum.
The Rams made one more effort to get back into the game, scoring after a pass interference call in the fourth quarter to complete their best drive of the night. After forcing a Trailblazer punt, the Rams went on the march again but their drive stalled at the Americas 8 with a third interception (and fourth turnover) of the night.
Each team added one more touchdown in the closing moments, with Josh Foley scoring for the Rams with 8.3 seconds left.
Cleveland High flipped the script, meanwhile, winning at El Paso Del Valle 52-36. Both teams are at home on Friday – the Storm (2-0) play host to Las Cruces Onate while the Rams (1-1) take on Albuquerque La Cueva.
The Cleveland Storm showed little mercy in their season opener, rolling past visiting Manzano 53-0 in a game ended after two quarters under the state’s mercy rule."
Under New Mexico rules, any team that has a margin of 50 points or greater at halftime is declared the winner. The game is played with a unning clock when any team gets a lead of 35 points or greater.
The Storm locked up the game with seven seconds left in the second quarter when receiver Marcus Williams made a diving catch in the end zone. The last score came after the storm blocked a Manzano punt in the final minute of the half.
There was little doubt of which team would win from the outset. After taking the opening kickoff at its own 25, the Storm needed just three plays to score their initial touchdown on a 65-yard run by quarterback Gabe Ortega. The two-point conversion run gave the Storm an 8-0 led just 41 seconds into the game.
The Storm held and regained possession deep in their own territory after a penalty. Williams circus catch got Cleveland out of the hole, but the drive stalled and the Storm had to settle for a 40 yard field goal three minutes later.
After a Manzano fumble, Williams made another leaping catch in the back right corner of the end zone and the rout was on. The score was 26-0 after one quarter.
Unofficially Manzano had just one first down in the game.
The third-ranked Storm plays at El Paso Del Valle next Friday.
Earlier Friday, defending state champion Rio Rancho High defeated
Valley 42-12 in a game played at Community Stadium in Albuquerque.