BLACKWATER DRAW — It was Homecoming for Portales. Because an earlier game had to be moved, it also served as the Rams' home opener.
The Dexter Demons, though, spoiled it by pulling out a 15-14 victory on Friday night at Greyhound Stadium.
Each team put together a long scoring drive on its first possession before the game turned into a defensive slugfest. But the Demons (2-3) covered 68 yards in 10 plays for what turned into the game-winning score in the final minute of the third period, a 28-yard pass to the left flat from senior quarterback Amador Amaya to senior running back Aldo Ramirez, who broke several tackles to reach the end zone.
The Demons held on when a 12-play Rams' drive stalled midway through the fourth quarter and senior Zach Blaeser came up short on a 38-yard field goal attempt.
"I can enjoy this for not very long because we've got to get ready for (Class 2A top-ranked) Santa Rosa," Demons coach Frank Sandoval said. "Our kids needed a win, and on the road, their Homecoming, it was big.
"Hopefully, we can get a little confidence from this."
First-year PHS coach Jaime Ramirez, meantime, was disappointed his team (1-4) couldn't build on last week's win at Raton, but outside of their early scoring march and the aborted late drive the Rams were able to muster little on offense.
"We lost a ballgame we shouldn't have lost, that's all their is to it," said Ramirez, whose team played without a couple of regulars suspended for disciplinary reasons. "We seemed to (struggle) from the (early drive) until the fourth quarter."
Ramirez said he didn't want to blame outside factors, including a rain-slickened turf which might have impacted Blaeser's field goal try.
"I'm not going to (do) that," he said. "We didn't execute from the second quarter on until that last drive when we missed the field goal."
Sandoval, though, said he had watched Blaeser make long field goals in warmups when the field was still dry.
"That kid was kicking 40-yarders before the game," he said of Blaeser. "I'm sure the wet turf affected him."
Sophomore quarterback Paul Conrow led Portales 65 yards on eight rushing plays following the opening kickoff, with junior Jaime Sotelo getting the score on a 10-yard run. Dexter promptly tied it 7-7, driving 70 yards in 10 plays for a 3-yard TD run by Anaya with five minutes left in the opening quarter.
The Demons took the lead on a safety early in the second period when Conrow, rolling left in the end zone, was ruled to have intentionally thrown the ball out of bounds and called for grounding — although it appeared he was outside the tackle box and also had a receiver in the area.
The Rams regained a 14-9 lead with less than three minutes left in the half when senior linebacker Ozzie Navarrete stripped the ball from Aldo Ramirez and ran it back 20 yards to the end zone.
PHS has an open date next week before hosting Hope Christian on Oct. 13.
"We have a lot of work to do, beginning Monday, to try to get better," coach Ramirez said.