FARMINGTON — After two weeks of struggling against the top two 4A teams in the state, Aztec had no problem scoring in bunches against 3A Raton.
A 305-mile bus ride didn't slow down Aztec (1-2) on Friday night. Aztec scored 28 points in the first half as junior quarterback Marcus Crawford took over the game. Crawford threw five touchdown passes and ran for another in Aztec's 56-7 victory.
"We needed that, no question about it," said Aztec head coach Matt Steinfeldt. "We are fortunate that our schedule is now becoming more manageable, and it is nice to see the boys turn the corner and play the kind of game we know they can."
Crawford put Aztec up 7-0 in the first quarter on a one-yard touchdown run to cap off an 11-play, 70-yard drive. The score remained 7-0 after one quarter as Aztec struggled with penalty calls that extended Raton drives and brought back big offensive plays by Aztec.
Just one minute into the second quarter, Crawford hit Josh Harris on a 29-yard touchdown pass on a perfectly thrown vertical pass. It was one of four touchdown passes Harris hauled in on Friday night. Crawford also hit Caleb Gaskins on a swing pass that Gaskins took 47 yards for a touchdown.
"Crawford made two phenomenal passes up the sideline to Harris. Josh made some great plays on those balls, but Marcus really came into his own," Steinfeldt said. "This was his coming out party. Our plan coming into the game was to shift the attention off of (running back) Ryneal (Lewis-Adams) and let Marcus find himself at the quarterback position. I think he did that."
Aztec also forced a few turnovers on defense, including a Braden Goimarac fumble recovery in the second quarter.
"We knew going into the season the defense would turn the corner and perform well," Steinfeldt said. "We had struggled with guys in the first two weeks, but (defensive coordinator) Herb Stinson does amazing work with the defense."
Aztec took a 28-7 lead into halftime and extended that lead to 35-7 on a Lewis-Adams touchdown run. He had two touchdowns in the game, despite sustaining an ankle injury early in the game.
Aztec tacked on one more late touchdown with less than a minute left in the game on a touchdown run by freshman quarterback Jake Rogers. Second-string quarterback Garrett Heyden didn't make the trip as he was ruled out by doctors with an illness.
Aztec will hit the road again next week as the Tigers face 0-3 Miyamura.
"Miyamura is a good team. I know they are struggling at 0-3, but they showed how good they can be against Piedra Vista in the first week," Steinfeldt said. "We know they have the tools and can compete with teams. We are ready to go after them and get to 2-2."
Navajo Prep 53, Crownpoint 0
The Eagles continued to roll through the early part of their schedule with a shutout victory over Crownpoint.
Navajo Prep led the game 32-0 after the first quarter, and the game ended at halftime via the mercy rule.
"The guys played pretty well," said Prep head coach Rod Denetso. "The kids caught the ball well. They played deep, so the guys just caught it in front of them and made plays."
Prep quarterback Tyler Sorensen had another strong game, going 9-for-12 through the air with 240 yards and five touchdowns, while running one in himself.
Denetso was also impressed by his defense, which allowed just 37 yards to Crownpoint (0-3) in the game.
Prep (3-0) has outscored its opponents 153-0 in the opening three games, but the team will get its first real test of the season next week against defending 1A state champion Escalante.
"We want to win and be prepared. They're a good team. I think we match up well. It will be a test and lets us see if we're contenders or pretenders," Denetso said. "We'll have more guys catching the ball. Defensively, we missed a lot of tackles and blitzed too much last year, but we're excited about the game plan this year."
Mounument Valley 71, Shiprock 40
The Chieftains lost a shootout against Monument Valley, Ariz., 71-40.
Shiprock head coach Storm Tallbull said he knew the Mustangs would be a difficult opponent for his squad going into the game.
"We went against a really well-coached team," Tallbull said. "I still have faith in my boys, and they played their hearts out. This is not the end of the line for us."
The Mustangs led throughout the contest and took a 41-18 advantage into halftime.
Despite the loss, the Chieftain coach saw some signs of improvement, especially offensively.
Irwin Holiday and Ryan Nez split time at quarterback, throwing three touchdowns apiece, with wide receiver Hiram Gleason as the main target.
"We came out with a lot of passes. Hiram had some big catches and some big yardage," Tallbull said.
Next for Shiprock (1-2) will be an away game against Pojoaque Valley.
"We just have to fix mistakes. We knew we had a few in this game, and we just got to get better," Tallbull said.