AZTEC — Aztec outscored No. 1 Goddard 21-20 in the second half of Friday night's game, but it wasn't enough to beat the Rockets.
Goddard jumped out to a 34-7 halftime lead against the Tigers in the Rockets' first trip to Fred Cook Memorial Stadium since falling to Aztec in the 2011 state championship game. The Rockets made it a sweet return, winning 54-28.
It was Aztec's second loss to open the season, and it came a week after the Tigers were blanked by No. 2 Los Lunas 50-0.
"We walked out of last week's game with our heads held high despite the score. We knew we had blocks in place to build a foundation on," said Aztec head coach Matt Steinfeldt. "We feel the same this week. We are in an unenviable spot being 0-2 after playing the top two teams in 4A, but our kids showed their ability at times in the second half."
Steinfeldt said consistency was a problem for his team Friday night, but he credited his players for hanging tough all game.
Aztec's defense performed well in the second half. Brody Crawford recovered a fumble for a 72-yard touchdown and also recovered a second fumble later in the fourth quarter.
"We are not perfect by any means, but guys are rallying around the football. We had great hits by Cole Epley and Jake Harris off the edges. Guys making huge hits," Steinfeldt said.
Goddard used two quarterbacks in the game. Both proved formidable when called upon as Goddard put up 520 yards of total offense.
Dean McDaniel led the Rockets with 160 yards rushing with two touchdowns. Junior Chavez also had two touchdowns in the game.
Ryneal Lewis-Adams led Aztec with 150 yards rushing and a touchdown. Justis Francisco caught a touchdown pass from Marcus Crawford, who had 180 yards passing in the game for the Tigers.
Fullback Noah Frohn also scored on a 35-yard touchdown run for Aztec.
Though the start of Aztec's season has been bumpy, Steinfeldt believes the team can repeat what it did last year when it made the state tournament after a 1-3 start.
The Tigers get their next chance at a first win next Friday night at Raton.
"Raton has a great reputation in this state for playing good football. I am looking forward to the game," Steinfeldt said. "There is not one easy game on our schedule. I think it is the toughest in the state. Raton will be a great opponent, and I think we match up well with them."John Livingston can be reached at email@example.com; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.