By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer
BLOOMFIELD — Portales senior Ezekial (Zeke) Soto kicked the Portales Rams into the Class 3A state football semifinals Saturday afternoon with a field goal in a 20-17 double overtime win against Bloomfield.
Soto’s 28-yard game-winner, sets up a semifinal game with Saint Michael’s Horsemen in Santa Fe Friday or Saturday for the Rams.
“That was intense,” Portales senior running back Eric Segovia said moments after the game. “When we went into the double overtime, a lot of us thought that might be it for us, but, gosh, when we made that field goal, the last 10 to 15 years of my life flashed before my eyes.”
Soto’s game-winner also put a big smile on the face of Portales first-year head coach Andy Correll as well.
“These guys, we’ve battled it all year, they get down on themselves when we get down,” Correll said. “We were never behind, but we had to overcome a lot of adversity there in the second half. These kids rose up in that overtime, and we’re proud of ‘em.”
Portales squandered a 14-point halftime advantage, allowing the Bobcats to pull even in the second half, sending the contest into the first overtime period, where both teams kicked a field goal, prompting double overtime.
In the second extra period, Bloomfield started with the ball from the 10-yard line, but after a 15-yard personal foul and two incomplete passes, senior kicker Chris Ledbetter missed a 40-yard field goal attempt.
The Rams then had four plays from the 10-yard line, to win the game with any score. The Rams began their series with a 15-yard personal foul as well, backing up the Rams to the 30-yard line. Segovia reeled off a quick 13-yard run, before fellow senior Cruz Ontiveros picked up five yards setting up Soto’s game-winner from 28 yards out, for his first game winning kick.
“I was a little scared,” Soto said. “My legs were shaking as soon as I saw the ball (snapped) and when the ball was down, I just had to kick it in. I was excited.”
The Rams quickly built a 14-0 halftime lead after junior quarterback Chris Mosier led the Rams on a 14-play, 95-yard drive to start the game, capped by Mosier’s 1-yard quarterback sneak to take a fast 7-0 lead. Those were the first points the Bloomfield defense had allowed in their last six games.
After the Portales defense forced a four-and-out on the Bobcats opening drive of the game, Ontiveros took the Bloomfield punt 75 yards down the left sideline to stun the Bloomfield crowd, and give Portales a 14-0 lead.
The Ram defense dominated the first half as well, holding Bloomfield to just 9 total yards in the first half, and not allowing a first down.
Bloomfield began the second half with an eight-play, 50-yard drive highlighted by senior running back Austin Lutz’ 3-yard touchdown run to put the Bobcats on the board. The Bobcats followed up that score with another to start the fourth quarter. Junior Cody Cummins took a hand-off, and completed a 45-yard connection to senior receiver Richard Casaus. setting up the home team at the Ram 3-yard line. Lutz tied the score one play later with a 2-yard run up the middle.
Heading into the first overtime Correll was confident, even though Bloomfield seemed to have the momentum, outscoring the Rams 14-0 in the second half.
“Honestly, with the field reduced, I knew our defense could rise up, I knew we could hold them to a field goal attempt. Offensively, we just kept shooting ourselves in the foot (with penalties).”
Portales was penalized 12 times for 95 yards.