By Kevin Wilson
ROSWELL — For the final 33 minutes of Friday night’s game, the Portales Rams dominated the Goddard Rockets and showed they were capable of hanging with a Class 4A football team.
Unfortunately for the visiting Rams, high school football games are 48 minutes long, and the first 15 minutes were all the host Rockets needed in a 33-18 win Friday night at the Wool Bowl in Roswell.
Portales (3-2) fell behind 27-0 with 9:30 left to go in the second quarter, and could never recover from first-half mistakes and second-half turnovers. The Rams staged a comeback, but were their own worst enemy with five of their six turnovers in the second half — three coming inside the Goddard 10-yard line.
“We don’t want to keep harping on it, but yet it’s realistic,” Portales coach Glen Johnson said. “When you line up and play four quarters, the things that can transpire that will come back and haunt you (in the end) are undisputed.”
The Ram offense stalled early and Goddard got three quick touchdowns on offense, then the Rockets capitalized when Portales fumbled away the ensuing kickoff on a 19-0 deficit.
Goddard quarterback Jesus Baca, who had already thrown a pair of long touchdown passes to Gabe Garcia, ran in a five-yard score and the two-point conversion to give the Rockets all the insurance they’d need.
Tommy Spangler opened the scoring for Goddard with a seven-yard run on the Rockets’ opening drive.
Portales answered back in its last two drives of the first half with rushing touchdowns from Cole Parrish and Seth Clabaugh, making the halftime deficit 27-12.
The Rams were stopped six yards short of the goal on the opening drive of the third quarter, but made good on a second chance from Josh Teague’s fumble recovery. Clabaugh scored on a one-yard run on 4th and goal to make it 27-18, but turnovers took their toll from that point on.
Portales drove deep into Goddard territory on their next drive, but Trace Ryan was able to strip the ball away from Ram receiver Austin Pullen at the Goddard 5.
The Rams’ final four possessions ended with turnovers — Pullen’s fumble, a turnover on downs, an interception by Brandon Leal and a Cole Parrish run stopped just short of a first down at the Goddard 9.
Leal ended the scoring with 6:41 to go in the fourth quarter on a six-yard reception.
Goddard coach Sam Jernigan was impressed with Portales’ resolve after falling into a deficit so quickly.
“You’ve got to give them a lot of credit,” Jernigan said. “They played hard and we had a huge letdown, but that happens when you’ve got younger kids.
“We got conservative and tried to run out the clock, but within reason (with) the way we were running the ball.”
Baca completed 7 of 11 passes for 149 yards and three scores, while Spangler led the Goddard rushing attack with 95 yards on 24 carries. Clabaugh completed 14 of 30 passes for 185 yards and ran for 128 yards on 21 carries, and Chris Carter led Portales with eight catches for 111 yards.
Portales will be back home on Friday to host Eunice, while Goddard faces Clovis.