BLOOMFIELD — In the 83rd meeting between fierce rivals Aztec and Bloomfield on Friday night, the Bobcats did something they hadn't done in 14 years — win.
Bloomfield racked up a staggering 406 yards rushing in front of its home crowd at Bobcat Stadium, propelling the team to a 48-28 win over the Tigers in the opening game of the season.
"We ran the ball like we want to; we do want to throw the ball some more, but I just thought we had the advantage there," Bloomfield coach Bob Allcorn said. "We really took advantage of their weak side and the short side of the field. The kids did a great job of executing."
The longtime foes felt each other out in a first quarter that resembled the early rounds of a boxing match.
But the Bobcats' run-heavy offense turned it on in the second quarter, overpowering Aztec's defensive front to the tune of 165 yards on the ground.
After the first quarter came and went without a score on either side, the Tigers gambled with a fourth-and-four rushing attempt on their own 35-yard line to open the second quarter. They were stopped short and relinquished possession.
That seemed to be the spark the Bobcats needed, as their running game was unleashed from that point. Chauncey White ripped off an 18-yard run followed by a JD Robinson 7-yard dash up the middle for the score. Aztec blocked the extra point
Less than four minutes later, Robinson stayed hot, capping a six-play, 88-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown run up the middle. A successful two-point conversion hook-up between QB Brendon Charley and Adriano Stevenson made it 14-0.
After an Aztec fumble on the ensuing drive, White rushed for a quick 32 yards on two carries, including an 8-yard scoring romp. The Tigers appeared dead in the water down 20, but that's when their passing game woke up. Just before the half, Aztec running back Derek Baca injected some life into the Tiger faithful in attendance with a 45-yard run. On the next play, Aztec quarterback Cody Smith hit Beau Crawford over the middle for a 47-yard touchdown. The Tigers bottled that momentum going into the second half, as Smith hooked up with Crawford again, this time for a 67-yard scoring strike, on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. Aztec coach Matt Steinfeldt said Smith was one of his team's bright spots on an otherwise rough night.
"He's got great poise. I think you saw him scrambling and running and being very physical," Steinfeldt said of Smith. "I think he commanded the offense very well. Of guys that played well, he was certainly one of (them)."
Bloomfield didn't buckle under the sudden pressure.
Up by only six, the Bobcats responded with a five-play, 50-yard drive, finished off with a White rushing score from 11 yards out.
On Aztec's next drive, the Tigers struggled to find consistency and wound up turning the ball over on downs, something the team did four times Friday. The Tigers had five total turnovers.
At the tail end of the third quarter, Bloomfield sophomore Diego O'Neill got in on the action with a 1-yard score via a reverse. That made the game 34-14, and the Tigers would never get any closer than a 13-point margin from then on.
Steinfeldt said his team was using a rotation of only 13 total players in the game and said his guys looked to have been gassed late in the contest.
"As Bloomfield was able to put just five-, six-minute drives out there, that defensive line, which is also our offensive line, just wore down," he said.
Aztec's offense got things going late and scored two more touchdowns — one coming on an 8-yard quarterback keeper from Smith and another on a 39-yard scamper by Dylan Sutherland.
However, Bloomfield responded to both of those early-fourth quarter scores with touchdowns of its own, never letting the Tigers find any kind of rhythm.
Robinson rushed for 99 yards and three touchdowns. White totaled 178 yards on the ground and scored a pair of touchdowns for Bloomfield.
"Chauncey's a kid who missed the first few two-a-days, so it took him awhile to work into the starting role," he said. "As a runner, he's fast, he's physical and I couldn't be prouder of him. He's truly a special athlete."
Bloomfield will visit Pojoaque Valley (0-1) Friday for a 7 p.m game. The Tigers also hit the road to play Durango, Colo., (0-1) for a noon game on the same day.