FARMINGTON — The Farmington High defense came within three seconds of a second consecutive district shutout.
The Scorpions dominated Kirtland Central from the opening kickoff to come out with a 35-7 win at Hutchison Stadium on Friday night.
"We can't underestimate any team, and I thought we executed well over the course of the game," said FHS quarterback Jacob Lucas. "It was a great win."
No. 3 FHS (8-1 overall, 2-0 District 1-4A) held No. 12 Kirtland (6-3, 0-2) to 45 yards of total offense in the victory.
That defense has propelled the Scorps during a five-game winning streak in which they've allowed just 26 points.
"We've played good, solid, fundamental defense all year long. Our first goal is to stop the run, and our second goal is to stop the big play," said FHS defensive coordinator Jeffrey Dalton. "If we can force teams to have to put drives together then we can get the ball and force mistakes."
Offensively, Lucas ran for two touchdowns and threw two more in the first half, but the Scorps struggled to maintain drives throughout the game.
Kyle Reynolds came up with a long punt return late in the first quarter to give FHS the ball at the Bronco 11-yard line.
"Our offense was kind of lagging," Reynolds said. "My blocking was good, and I just took it."
Lucas scored four plays later from three yards out to give Farmington a 6-0 lead.
Farmington scored again at the 7:34 mark of the second quarter when Lucas hit Reynolds on an 18-yard touchdown pass to cap a 7-play, 48-yard drive to give FHS a 12-0 lead.
"My receivers were catching great," said Lucas, who went 9-of-13 for 100 yards. "It's great to have that passing game. It allows us to be more versatile."
Another long punt return from Reynolds set up the Scorps' offense with a short field, and Lucas found Xander Walker one play later on a 19-yard touchdown pass to put Farmington ahead 19-0 with 3:30 left in the first half.
"He's always been pretty special back there," FHS head coach Gary Bradley said of Reynolds. "He just has a knack of knowing how to catch it and seeing things develop."
The Scorpion defense then stepped up to force a fumble from KCHS quarterback Jacob Flack, giving FHS the ball at Kirtland's 24-yard line.
Lucas ran in his second touchdown of the game with just 21 seconds left in the quarter to put FHS ahead 26-0 heading into halftime.
The FHS running game was held in check by Kirtland's defense through most of the game, but Brian Farley was able to break free early in the third quarter for a 31-yard touchdown run to give the Scorps a 33-0 lead.
"We preach run and hit, and that's what they do," said KCHS head coach Kevin Graham of his defense, which allow just 74 rushing yards in the loss. "If we could get a little offense to go with them, we'd have a chance. It's frustrating, but we'll keep at it."
Farley finished with 58 yards on nine carries.
"We probably could have passed more. They were stacked up front and going to plug up everything with some big dudes," Bradley said. "It wasn't a pretty performance, but Kirtland's a good ball club. It's district, and every game is tough. Yards were tough to come by tonight."
Reynolds and Logan Welling combined to sack Jacob Belin in the end zone for a safety three plays later, putting FHS ahead 35-0.
"The defense does wonders. They're the reason why we're winning," Lucas said.
Belin found the end zone for the Broncos on a 13-yard touchdown run with three seconds left in the game to end the shut out.
The win sets up a district championship game between FHS and Piedra Vista (7-2, 2-0), who defeated Aztec 27-21.
"That's where all the training comes in. This is exactly what the offseason and summer workouts were for," Bradley said. "I think we'll be all right. The school will have fun with the week, but we'll just get back to work."
The loss leaves Kirtland squarely on the playoff bubble, and Graham know a win against Aztec next Friday is a must if his team wants any shot at the postseason.
"We know that if we can win next week, we'll have a shot at getting into the playoffs and that's what it's all about," he said.