Piedra Vista defense dominates in shutout of Farmington High
FARMINGTON — Piedra Vista watched a season ago as its rival, Farmington High, used a strong running game and sound defense to win a title.
The Panthers turned around this year and executed that same game plan to perfection against the 2013 champs as they defeated the Scorpions 7-0 to open the District 1-5A season on Friday night at Hutchison Stadium.
"It's a great recipe, and it got them a state championship," PV head coach Jared Howell said. "Coach (Gary) Bradley and his staff do an excellent job. They're doing great things. I'm just proud of our kids and my coaches. They all did a great job."
PV's Elijah Gamboa ran for 117 yards on 10 carries, while junior Scott Ramirez pounded his way to 111 yards on 19 carries as the Panthers controlled the clock with their ground attack.
"It's very big for our seniors. They've never beat them before, and everything we did was for them," said Gamboa, of PV's win over FHS for the first time since 2008.
Gamboa scored the game's only touchdown four seconds into the second quarter on a 5-yard run. The running back duo both had big carries on the drive with the sophomore Gamboa reeling off a 20-yard run, while the junior Ramirez picked up gains of 11 and 17 yards to set up the score.
"We need that ground game," Ramirez said. "We just played fundamental football."
Defensively, the Panthers (5-2, 1-0) locked down the Scorpions (4-3, 0-1) throughout the game, limiting FHS to just 155 yards of total offense.
"They hit us in the mouth and didn't let us get any big plays," FHS head coach Gary Bradley said. "They stopped the big play that we've been accustomed to. We just couldn't get it moving. They played great defensively and really got after it."
The first drive of the game set the tone for the Panthers' offense. Even though PV came up empty on the scoreboard, the Panthers changed field possession, driving from their own 3-yard line to the FHS 7, before the Scorpions' defense settled in a field goal try that was missed from 31 yards out.
The 16-play drive milked nearly eight minutes off the clock in the first quarter and helped the Panthers establish their offensive game plan.
"I think they did a good job. I've got to hand it to them," Bradley said. "They kept a simple game plan, I think, and played a good game. It was a tough ball game. They were just better than us tonight."
The Scorps had a pair of chances to tie after driving into the red zone, but the Panthers' defense made the key plays to halt the FHS offense.
A couple of minutes before halftime, the Scorpions drove to the PV 14-yard line before the Panthers sacked FHS quarterback Diego Elebario three times on the next four plays to get the ball back.
The final FHS opportunity came with just more than five minutes left as the Scorps drove all the way to the Panther 6-yard line. But on 4th-and-2, the PV defensive line stuffed Elebario.
The Panthers' offense was able to run out the final four minutes to seal the win.
"It was just a hard-fought game on both side," Howell said. "Both teams laid it on the line to win. We were fortunate to come out on the winning side."
Crowd support at the game rivaled that of the FHS title game against Goddard, and Howell said it was good to see the community come out and support both squads.
"I think the town is learning how to tailgate together and get here earlier," Howell said. "People aren't usually here until 15 minutes after the game starts, so it was great to see."
Both teams will now look forward to their next district matchup with tough opponents on deck.
PV will hit the road where it will face undefeated Miyamura in Gallup.
"We get about 24 hours to enjoy this, then the focus is on Miyamura," Howell said. "They're 5-0, and we're at their place. It will be a tall task."
FHS will be at home with Aztec coming to Hutchison off a 70-0 blowout of Gallup High on homecoming.
"We'll find out about our maturity and how we bounce back," Bradley said. "We'll be ready for Aztec and know it's still a long season. We definitely don't have time to feel sorry for ourselves."