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Late Israel Gutierrez touchdown gives Panthers win


AZTEC — The Piedra Vista and Aztec football teams traded scores for most of tonight's game at Fred Cook Stadium, but it was the visiting Panthers who came out on top, outlasting the Tigers 43-40.

Aztec coach Matthew Steinfeldt noted the offensive nature of the game and said he was proud of his players.

"Our kids play with passion," he said.

Piedra Vista coach Jared Howell said the two teams have very different styles. The Tigers' strength is in passing while the Panthers' strong point is running the ball.

"The team that had the ball last won," Howell said.

The win for the Panthers did not come easily. Aztec quarterback Cody Smith was able to find receivers Justin Black, Zach Taylor and Sebastian McNeal during scoring drives. In the first quarter, Smith ran the ball several times to set up his team deep in PV territory. He then passed to Black, who caught it in the end zone to score the Tigers' first touchdown of the game.

"They've got some great athletes on their side," Howell said.

The Panthers' had several successful drives of their own. Israel Gutierrez scored PV's final touchdown. Running back McKay Cook acknowledged that the score was close throughout the entire game.

"I think we just played very physical, and that's what won us the game," Cook said.

Piedra Vista (3-1) will play West Mesa next week in Albuquerque. The Tigers (0-4) will not play again until their homecoming game against Española Valley on Sept. 29.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.