By Mickey Winfield Freedom newspapers
The Portales Rams grabbed the lead early, and rushed their way to a district-opening win Friday night at Greyhound Stadium, 27-7 over Ruidoso.
Portales gained 314 yards on the ground, including 121 yards and two touchdowns from senior running back Cruz Ontiveros.
“We executed at a level that we know we can,” said head coach Andy Correll. “I’m just proud of the kids, how they rose to the occasion.”
While the Portales offense ran the ball effectively, the Ram defense held the Warriors to 27 rushing yards on 22 carries and forced five turnovers.
Ram senior running back Eric Segovia was injured midway through the second quarter after carrying the ball 10 times for 61 yards. According to the Portales coaching staff, Segovia injured his shoulder and was taken for X-rays before halftime.
After the teams traded fumble recoveries in the first quarter, Portales began their second drive deep in Ruidoso territory. Junior quarterback Chris Mosier put the Rams on the board with a 13-yard quarterback keeper up the middle.
Later in the first, the Portales defense forced another Ruidoso fumble. Less than four minutes later, Ontiveros took a delayed handoff from the 36-yard line and scored down the left sideline to give the home team a 14-0 first quarter lead.
“I think it was huge (to get an early lead), just to get our confidence up and kind of force them into having to do other things,” Correll said.
The Rams (3-4) added to their two-touchdown advantage in the third quarter after recovering another Ruidoso fumble. Mosier found the end zone again on an eight-yard run to give Portales a 21-0 lead.
Ruidoso (0-8) answered that score with a 10-play, 58-yard drive, taking more than four minutes off the clock, ending in the Warriors only score of the game, a 15-yard pass from senior quarterback Adam Gonzales to Thomas Austin.
The Rams passed only twice in the fourth, using runs from Ontiveros and Mosier to milk the clock. Ontiveros added the exclamation point with a 25-yard scoring run in the game’s final minute.
Correll was proud of how junior Ricky Lovato handled his first significant playing time, subbing for Segovia in the second half.
“He did great. He gets reps in our practices,” Correll said. “So he knows our offense. He knows what to do. He’s a hard runner — he made one real long run on the trap, but he goes both ways. We’re going to have to keep working to get him in a little bit better shape.”
In Segovia’s absence, Ontiveros carried a heavier load as well, and put up his biggest numbers of the year as well.
“I just felt good, with Eric gone, some people had to pick it up, and I was one of those, and we did well,” Ontiveros said. “This is big. Hopefully everybody knows we made a statement tonight, all across the state.”
Mosier ran for 83 yards and two touchdowns, while completing four of eight passes for 39 yards.
Portales’ win, combined with a Lovington win at NMMI, sets up an early district 4-3A championship showdown Friday night as Portales travels to Lovington.