Tigers can't hold off Coyotes in pivotal third quarter


ROSWELL — The Aztec football team raced to an early lead in today’s 5A state quarterfinal game against Roswell, but the Tigers couldn’t withstand a big rally by the Coyotes and lost a 42-35 contest at the Wool Bowl.

Roswell scored 29 straight points in the second half, ending Aztec’s season at 6-6. The third-seeded Coyotes (8-3) will face second-seeded Belen in the state semifinals at 2 p.m. Saturday.

“Going into the third period, there was a period where four of the six possessions went to Roswell. We had one down here where we drop the ball on fourth down, and we’re in scoring position,” Aztec coach Matthew Steinfeldt said. “We score right then and there, we’re up two points right near the end of the half. That was the turning point for us. Then we allow them to get four of six possessions and score all of those points.”

Aztec got on top early on its first possession when quarterback Cody Smith lead an 11-play, 74-yard touchdown drive that included a pair of successive quarterback draws for 35 yards.

But the Tigers struggled to build on their strong start.

The Coyotes controlled the ball for most of the game and wore down the Aztec defense.

After getting their first lead midway through the third quarter, the Coyotes executed a successful onside kick. They capitalized on that play later on in that same quarter when running back Gabe Najar scored his fifth rushing touchdown of the game.

Aztec made a late run, but Najar recovered the Tigers' onside kick to seal the playoff victory.

“We just felt like we had the momentum, and we wanted to keep the pressure on them,” Roswell coach Jeff Lynn said.