The Tigers went on the road last Friday, facing Lordsburg in game four of the gridiron season. In a game far closer than the final 40-26 score would indicate, the Tigers were nevertheless, forced to return home. Wearing the loss. They spent the week regrouping and fixing what wasn’t working before facing NMMI in the friendly confines of Tiger Stadium.
With a spectacular lightening storm providing plenty of fire- works and two delays, the game finally got underway more than an hour and a half late. The delays and lightening show did little to improve the fortunes of the Tigers. While they held a brief lead midway through the second quarter and were within two point until midway through the final period, the Tigers found penalties, miscues costly and couldn’t find an answer to the home team’s passing game.
When the game finally got going, it had the look of a lot of Tiger battles, closely fought and heavy on defense. From the out- set it was obvious the Mavs were taking to the air, with their first five plays relying on passing. They got five of their 19 first downs in that first possession, ending in a Lordsburg touchdown. With the two-point conversion good, a pass play again, it was home team up, 8-0.
The Tigers struggled a bit and didn’t answer it until their first possession in the second quarter. Pushing the ball 72 yards in four plays, at 32 yards out a pass from Tiger quarterback Benito Villa found wide receiver Jesus Gomez who completed the run into the end zone for six Tiger points. Un- able to convert, the score stood at 8-6 with our Tigers down just two.
It was late in the second when the Tigers struck again. With two minutes and change left in the half, a 36-yard gain on a pass from Villa to fullback Josmar Avalos left us at first and goal to go. When it’s short yards between the line and the end zone, there isn’t anyone much better than the Tigers’ own field general, and it was Villa who punched the ball through to put the Tigers ahead, 12-8.
With half a minute left in the first half, the home team put six more on the board and the teams retired to their corners at the break with the score, Tigers down by two, 14-12. It was homecoming in Lordsburg, so halftime went long, driving a game already running late, ever deeper into the night.
Having won the coin toss, the Tigers had elected to defer receiving until the second half. Quarter three started with the Tigers in great field position Virtually every Lordsburg kick in the game was on onside kick attempt and this one left the Tigers starting their opening drive of the half on the 45. On the first play, a rare interception turned it over. That Lordsburg drive ended in a touch- down. With the two points after added it put the home team up 22-12 with 8:23 left on the clock in the third.
The Tigers answered on their next possession. Again, starting in good field position with their on- side kick picked up by Devon Gonzales and the Tigers started their drive on the 45. A Staten Castillo rush, and a couple more by Villa picked up a few yards and a Tiger first down. Then a Villa handoff to Cameron Zamora gave him the ball on the 41. Breaking two tackle and through the Lords- burg defense, Zamora ran it all the way for the third Tiger touch- down. The Tigers kicked to the home team with the score at 22- 18, and still in striking distance for our side.
Then the teams traded a couple touchdowns. First the home team put one in to go up 28-18 and then the Tigers returned the favor. They ran the play that had worked so well on their last pos- session, and once again Zamora ran it in, this time 33 yards for another score. The score was still Tigers down, but close, at 28-26.
There the score stood until halfway through the final quarter, when Lordsburg scored, and then scored again. They were points the Tigers weren’t able to
answer, and when the horn sounded at the end of play, the final score was a disappointing one, 40-26.
The stats told the story. Lords- burg had 331 yards passing. Be- tween that and the Tigers five penalties for a very costly 55 yards, the game crept out of reach. Several great Tiger plays that gained big yardage were called back after flags were thrown.
There were some Tiger hero- ics too. Two rushing touchdowns by Zamora, and another by Villa were added to that first, on a pass play to Gomez. There were 53
tackles by the Blue Swarm. This included four quarterback sacks, one each by Villa, Gomez and Hopper Madrid, with Zamora and Kenneth Miller teaming up for the other one. JJ Garcia had five unassisted tackles with Madrid chipping in four more. The Tiger defense is still something that can be formidable. What needs work is defending the passing game.
Next up, Friday in Tiger Stadium the visiting team will be NMMI, the New Mexico Military Institute Colts, always a fierce opponent. Next Friday, the Tigers travel to Moriarty, to face off against the Pintos.