AZTEC — The Farmington Scorpions picked up their first win against the Aztec Tigers since 2002 on Friday night.
Leading 3-0 at halftime, the Scorpions found a different gear in the second half as they blew out the Tigers 37-0 in the District 1-4A opener at Fred Cook Memorial Stadium in Aztec.
"It wasn't necessarily a change of plays or play calling, but it was our attitude to get after it and be more mentally and physically aggressive on both sides of the ball," Farmington senior quarterback Jacob Lucas said of the difference between the first and second halves.
The Farmington offense gradually wore down the Tigers as the Aztec offense couldn't keep the ball long enough to give the defense any rest. Farmington running back Brian Farley bulldozed his way to 168 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries for the Scorpions. Farmington rushed for a total of 292 yards in the game.
"Once we got a little bit of momentum, we wanted to keep it going no matter what," Farley said. "We kept gaining momentum in the second half and really came together."
Lucas, who rushed for 49 yards and two touchdowns, credited the Farmington offensive line for picking up their assignments and moving the whole team down the field.
Farmington (7-1 overall, 1-0 District 1-4A) led just 3-0 at halftime thanks to a 27-yard field goal by Tyler Blades. The Scorps had a few chances to score, including a first-and-goal situation from the one-yard line with just one second remaining in the first half, but the Aztec defense was able to come up with big stops at crucial times.
Though the Scorps had built just a 3-0 lead, they carried confidence into the locker room at halftime.
"Tyler's field goal was huge. If it would have been 0-0, that would've been hard," said FHS senior Kyle Reynolds. "Holding Aztec to zero points was a big deal for the defense, though. Because we had the lead, we knew we could build on it."
Farmington got the ball to start the second half and marched down the field, but a Lucas pass intended for Reynolds was intercepted by Aztec's Braden Goimarac at the Aztec one-yard line. Aztec couldn't move the ball and punted from deep in its own end zone. Reynolds returned the punt all the way to the Aztec 32-yard line, and the Scorpions scored five plays later on a Lucas 14-yard run.
Aztec (3-5, 0-1) started its next drive from its own 9-yard line, and Reynolds came up with his second interception of Aztec quarterback Marcus Crawford to set the Scorps up on the Aztec 15-yard line. One play later, Farley ran for a touchdown to give the Scorpions a 16-0 lead.
The Aztec offense went three-and-out seven times in the game and turned it over on downs once. The Tigers moved the ball past the 50-yard line on just two possessions all night.
"Hats off to Farmington. They capitalized on every opportunity they had," said Aztec senior running back Ryneal Lewis-Adams, who was held to just 24 yards rushing and 42 yards receiving. "Once they got ahead of us, we didn't have an answer for it."
One play before Reynolds' second interception, Aztec offensive lineman Matt Stalcup went down with an injury that required paramedics. He was taken to San Juan Regional Medical Center for further examination. Stalcup gave a thumbs up while being lifted into the ambulance. After the game, Aztec head coach Matt Steinfeldt said Stalcup was in good condition with no major problems.
Aztec's next two plays after the injury resulted in a false start and the Reynolds interception.
"That injury hurt us. Our mentality changed, and it was just a whole different mindset after Matt left," Lewis-Adams said. "We should have rallied together and capitalized on that, but it got to some of the players."
Farmington put the game away with three more rushing touchdowns from Farley, Lucas and Blades and another interception by Xavier Walker.
Crawford finished the game 13-of-26 passing for just 79 yards and three interceptions. Lucas was 7-of-10 passing for 43 yards and an interception for the Scorps.
Farmington's hard work over two weeks preparing for Aztec helped the team feel mentally prepared and confident going into the game, Lucas said.
"We definitely worked the hardest we have all season with the two weeks off to prepare. The team came together and united, and that is what propelled us to this win," he said.
After not beating Aztec in 11 years, Farley said it was all the sweeter to beat the Tigers in Aztec.
"Coming out here, especially in their own house, and taking it to them, it shows a lot for our team and shows a lot that we stick together, and that we really play as a team," Farley said.
Farmington will try to move to 2-0 in district next week with a home game against Kirtland Central (6-2, 0-1).
"We have two great games ahead with Kirtland and Piedra Vista. We can't look past Kirtland. A 6-2 team like that is nothing to look past," Reynolds said.
The Tigers are now 0-3 at home this season, and they will try to bounce back at home against Piedra Vista (6-2, 1-0) next week. The Tigers still have dreams of winning the district title and reaching the state playoffs, and they know it is possible after winning the district via tiebreaker at 2-1 a year ago.
"All we can do is let this game go, learn from the experience, and come back and work as hard as we can," Lewis-Adams said.John Livingston can be reached at email@example.com; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.