By Kevin Wilson: PNT Staff Writer
BLACKWATER DRAW — The first few minutes saw nothing go right for the Roswell Coyotes, but the breaks eventually evened out.
The Coyotes rolled to 443 yards of offense, had a pair of defensive touchdowns and a safety on an interception miscue by Portales to cruise to a 48-27 win at Greyhound Stadium.
In winning their second straight, the Coyotes (3-5) dealt Portales its fifth-straight loss and spoiled homecoming for the shorthanded Rams.
With eight starters still out due to suspension — they are expected to return for Friday’s District 4-3A opener against Lovington — Portales (2-5) ran out of gas in the second half after jumping out to a 14-0 lead less than seven minutes into the contest.
Portales junior Erett Grubbs intercepted a screen pass from Zane Klemo on the first play from scrimmage, and the Rams needed only six plays for Mario Salazar to find Todd McBroom for a 13-yard touchdown pass. After Roswell fell short on a fourth-down try on the ensuing drive, Ram junior Eric Segovia made his mark with a 1-yard run.
“They jumped up on us and I thought we were in trouble,” Roswell coach Barey Chambers said. “We were fortunate enough to do some things right in the second and third quarters.”
As the game went on, Roswell started to roll on offense with Klemo spreading the ball around to a multitude of receivers. After Klemo found Josh Williams for a 16-yard scoring pass late in the third quarter, the Roswell defense quickly made their mark by returning a fumble 29 yards for a score on the first play of Portales’ ensuing drive.
Portales converted the next drive into a 4-yard scoring run for Segovia, but Roswell scored twice in the final 2:17 of the second quarter with a 21-yard run for a Klemo and a 39-yard pass to Williams.
Depth became a factor in the second half, as Portales started to wear down. The Rams opened the third quarter with a 14-play, 7:40 drive that ended with Segovia’s third score, a 3-yard run up the middle.
As much as that drive wore out the Roswell defense, it also wore out the Ram defense, which featured many players playing both offense and defense. Roswell drove for two more touchdowns and the Rams only managed one first down the rest of the night.
“Depth is a plus, especially when you play the caliber of football team we played tonight,” Portales coach Glenn Johnson said. “Again, I say our kids gave us all they had to give.”
When they tried to give too much, it ended up backfiring. A Klemo pass was intercepted by junior Hunter Rackler in the end zone, and the Rams were called for a penalty while Rackler attempted a runback instead of kneeling for a touchback. The Rams were called for a safety on the play.
“With as many young kids as we had played,” Johnson said, “we made some mental mistakes in situations where, going into district play, we can’t make.”
Rackler intercepted Klemo on the very next Coyote offensive play as well, but four plays later sophomore Danny Castro jumped in front of a Salazar pass and returned it 29 yards for the final score of the contest.
Both teams enter district play next week. Lovington comes to Portales for the Rams’ final home game of the regular season, while the Coyotes face Goddard in the Wool Bowl.
For the Rams, they enter district play trying to build off of the positive things they did, like the drive to open the third quarter.
“ That drive, that’s just big for our kids to be able to do that to a 4A team, and I think our kids are working as hard as can be expected. We need to continue to work on the mental aspect as well as the techniques, fundamentals and execution.”