NMMI Sports Press
The NMMI football team put up 21 points in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a slow start, as the Hatch Valley Bears bested the Colts in the opening round of the NMAA’s Class 3A State Playoffs, 44-21.
The Bears posted touchdown drives on their first two offensive possessions, then added a third TD right before the end of the half on a 60-yard interception return, giving Hatch a 20-0 lead going into the locker rooms.
After giving up another score to the Bears at the start of the second half, NMMI’s offense finally got on-track, putting together a 10-play 68 drive, capped by a 28-yard TD rush by senior running back Jalil Brown.
A 38-yard Hatch field goal made the score 29-7 in the fourth quarter with 11:55 remaining.
The Colts’ next drive stalled out at the Hatch 42 with a pass attempt from quarterback Jasper Best to Charles Lewis falling incomplete on a fourth-and-six. But linebacker Arturo Cuen forced a Bear fumble, recovered by defensive end Roberto Laporte, getting the ball back to the NMMI offense. The next play, Brown again led the Colts into the end zone, this time with a 41-yard rush, making it a 29-14 game with 9:42 still left to play.
Two more Bear TDs – at the 6:52 and 2:25 marks – put the game out of reach, with NMMI’s final scoring drive coming with less than 2 minutes remaining. Halfback Charles Lewis ran in for NMMI’s final touchdown, a 9-yard rush finishing a 6-play, 55-yard drive.
The Colts tallied 272 total yards of offense in the contest – just 30 yards shy of the Bears’ output – led by Brown’s 14 carries for 134 yards. Lewis gained 63 yards on 9 attempts, Best was 11 for 39 on the ground, and Cuen as fullback ground out 22 yards up the middle on 4 rushes.
Cuen also had a stellar night on defense for the Colts, leading the team with 19 tackles: 10 solo and 9 assists.
Although head Colt coach Randy Montoya was disappointed with the loss – NMMI’s third to Hatch in the first round of the playoffs since 2014 – he was pleased with the play of his seniors and happy with how the team responded to the ups and downs over the course of the season.
“I’m just grateful our seniors got to play in this game and of all the obstacles we overcame to get here,” said Montoya. “Our kids showed heart, didn’t quit, and played a much better game in the second half. I’m proud of that.”