FARMINGTON — Beau Clafton was a one-man wrecking crew on Friday night at the University of New Mexico Stadium.
Clafton ran for four touchdowns and scored on a pass from Isaiah Valdez in Piedra Vista's 50-6 romping of St. Pius X. Clafton finished the game with 175 rushing yards on just 11 carries.
"It was definitely a special night playing at the UNM Stadium. The environment was unreal," Clafton said. "Playing with all of my friends out there, I will never forget this night. I am going to take it to the grave."
Piedra Vista's defense was relentless. The Panthers had an interception by Ryan Ketchum and two big sacks from Aaron Rino and Preston Torres. PV allowed the Sartans just 50 yards of total offense in the game while forcing them to go three-and-out on five of their seven possessions.
"We were able to get pressure on them. We had a good feel for what they would want to try to accomplish," said PV head coach Jared Howell. "Kids were filling gaps and playing good assignment football. We didn't make a whole bunch of errors defensively. The coaches had the kids prepared."
PV (5-2) marched the ball down the field on offense all night, scoring on eight of nine possessions. Clafton scored PV's first four touchdowns on runs of 39 yards, 55 yards and 25 yards. He also connected on a 34-yard field goal attempt and scored on an 18-yard pass from Valdez.
"Clafton is a special kid. When you give him a bit of daylight, it is pretty much all over," Howell said. "He has speed and strength. More importantly, he is a good kid who works hard. We are proud of that young man. It is a whole lot of fun to watch an athlete that talented do his thing."
Clafton also had a long punt return touchdown called back on a block in the back penalty. The Panthers made few mistakes in the game, but fumbled once immediately following Ketchum's interception. The Panthers were also flagged 15 times for 135 yards.
"It seemed like everything we did we got a flag for," Howell said. "We have to look on film and see what the problem is, because we can't have that many penalties in district games."
The lone St. Pius X (3-5) touchdown came late in the third quarter on a kickoff return by Kent Keeling. That made the score 38-6 PV.
And then PV iced the game with touchdowns runs by Valdez and Jose Ramirez.
The Panthers ran the ball with seven different players in the game. The Panthers rushed for nearly 460 yards in the game, Howell said.
"It is a testament to the kids on the offensive line correcting an error we had been talking about. They did a great job handling inside pressure and getting a push," Howell said. "It didn't matter who was carrying the ball, there was going to be a hole for them to find."
Fullback Zach Ahlgrim had a nice game with 47 yards rushing on three carries and 24 receiving yards on two catches.
Valdez was 9-of-16 passing for PV with 114 yards and a touchdown.
St. Pius X was without star wide receiver Javier Jaramillo, who sustained a concussion against Aztec in a 42-6 loss a week ago, and tight end and defensive end Connor Brown, who was injured early in Friday's game.
"My heart goes out to coach (San Juan) Mendoza. Pius is banged up and still playing hard like warriors," Howell said.
Clafton credited the coaches for working the Panthers hard during their week off following a win at Bernalillo.
"Our momentum keeps building each day. We go harder and harder in practice each day," Clafton said. "Normally, teams take off in the bye week, but we practiced harder than ever before. We are building a giant avalanche of momentum because of it."
Piedra Vista now turns its focus to homecoming week and its District 1-4A opener against Kirtland Central (6-1).
"It will be easy to keep the guys focused. It is a big game to start the district season, and we have got to play well," Howell said. "We are under no illusions that it will be easy."John Livingston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.