Live Blog: Kirtland Central Broncos (1-4) vs. Grants Pirates (1-4)

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times
Kirtland Central's Zakk Thomas runs up the middle during a Class 4A state quarterfinals football game at Grants.

KIRTLAND — The Kirtland Central Broncos will face off with the Grants Pirates tonight at 7 p.m. in the final non-district football game for both schools.

The Broncos (1-4) and the Pirates (1-4) are both hoping to end the non-district portion of their schedule on a winning note before making a run through their respective district campaigns and a potential bid at state football playoffs.

High school football: Farmington's defensive dynamo: Scorpion senior linebacker Aaron Hewey leading by example

Check in for live updates throughout the game and also for updates from other games happening around the county and involving local teams.

The games we'll follow tonight will include Del Norte vs. Farmington, as well as Cuba hosting Navajo Prep, Bloomfield on the road at Valencia and Piedra Vista visiting Durango.

High school football: Final week of non-district season provides plenty of storylines

Don't forget, the Aztec Tigers will also be in action tomorrow on the road visiting St. Pius.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. We'll have live updates beginning shortly before game time.

Kirtland Central Broncos football players participate in warmups before their game tonight at Bill Cawood Field against Grants.

9:19 pm — FINAL SCORE Kirtland Central 63, Grants 14

9:14 p.m. — The Broncos scored their second defensive TD on the night, Levon Begay picked off the ball and raced towards the end zone before the ball popped loose and was recovered in the end zone for a TD. The PAT made the score 63-14.

9:10 p.m. — The Broncos have cleared the bench and have run out of their second-team guys for some experience, which has slowed down their offensive productivity a bit. They're content to run the ball and let the clock bleed down. They'll punt the ball away with a little more than 6 minutes to go.

9:05 p.m. — The Pirates drove the length of the field, scoring on a 9-yard TD run from William Archuleta. The successful PAT makes it 56-14 KC with 9:27 left to play.

9 p.m. — End of third quarter KC 56 - Grants 7

8:54 p.m. — Grants punts away again, with KC taking over at the Pirates 44-yard line with 5:25 left in the third quarter.

KC goes three and out on their drive, punting the ball away to Grants, setting them up at their own 30 with 2:37 left in the third.

8:45 p.m. — Grants didn't get any better offensively early, turning the ball over on downs after a botched snap to the punter set the Broncos up at the 10-yard line. It took one play from Zakk Thomas to run the score to 56-7 with his fifth TD of the night.

8:37 p.m. — Halftime stats include Thomas with four scores, three rushing and one INT return. Beach has thrown the ball effectively as well, with two TD passes, one to Troy King and the other to Kragen Cadman. There will be a running clock when the second half gets underway with the Broncos receiving the kickoff.... and just like that, Randon Matthews runs back the second half kickoff for a TD. The PAT is good and the score is 49-7!

8:20 p.m. — HALFTIME SCORE Kirtland Central 42, Grants 7

8:12 p.m. — The Broncos started their next possession at their own 22-yard line and drove right down the field, with big chunks of yards on the ground from Cambridge and Thomas. The clock starts to wind down on the quarter as the Pirates simply cannot stop the Broncos running game. Thomas scored on a 22-yard run with the PAT good, extending the Broncos lead to 42-7 with 1:52 left in the half.

Meantime, Durango leads PV 35-0, Farmington leads Del Norte 36-0 at the half and Valencia leads Bloomfield 28-14.

8 p.m. — Kirtland Central moved the ball efficiently down the field, with Beach throwing a 25-yard pass route to Jeremy Barber and a huge 35-yard cutback run by Zakk Thomas. This kid is amazing. Nick Cambridge scored on a 7-yard run followed by a successful PAT, the Broncos lead 35-7 

7:50 p.m. — Grants started a drive deep in their own territory and managed to sustain a drive for a bit, getting a couple good runs from Andres Lazos and Manuel Gonzales. The drive stalled however at their own 34-yard line after a fourth down procedural penalty forced them to punt the ball away.

Other scores.... FHS leading Del Norte 29-0 early second quarter. 

7:45 p.m. — END OF FIRST QUARTER Kirtland Central 28, Grants 7.

7:40 p.m. — The Pirates did everything wrong on their ensuing possession, losing yards and punting on about 4th and 30. The Broncos needed only one play from their own 26-yard line for Beach to connect with Kragen Cadman, who broke several tackles on his way to a 74-yard TD pass. The PAT was good and the Broncos lead extended to 28-7 with just under 3 minutes left in the first. 

Meantime, Durango leads PV 28-0, Valencia leads Bloomfield 14-7 and FHS now has a 20-0 lead Del Norte.

7:30 p.m. —  A sloppy offensive series for the Broncos after the ensuing kickoff. They drove the ball into the red zone, then lost yards on a run play that went nowhere and a procedural penalty, followed by ill-advised throws from Beach that luckily were only incomplete passes, but a turnover on downs that starts Grants at their 23-yard line.

Grants turned the ball over almost immediately, with Zakk Thomas running back an interception 37 yards for a KC score. The extra point attempt was good and the Broncos lead 21-7 with 4:14 left in the first.

In other scores: Farmington leading Del Norte 13-0 and Bloomfield tied with Valencia 7-7.

7:15 p.m. — Didn't take long for Kirtland Central to get on the board... not once, but twice in the first quarter. After a botched Grant snap on a punt attempt, the Broncos got the ball inside the Pirates 10-yard line and scored two plays later on a Zakk Thomas run.

After a fumble recovery on Grants next possession spotted the Broncos another short field, QB Tyler Beach connected with receiver Troy King for a 25-yard TD pass.

The Pirates answered back with a long TD run of their own, and closed the gap to 14-7 with 7 minutes to go in the first quarter. 

6:45 p.m. — Also a couple of notes. Broncos running back Zakk Thomas and quarterback Tyler Beach have new uniform numbers tonight. Thomas, who had previously worn #32, will now wear #5. Beach, who had worn #43, will now wear #6. 

Gonna head downstairs to get some early game photos. Will have updates here as soon as I return.

6:30 p.m. — It's a beautiful night for football. Just a few high clouds over Bill Cawood Field here at Kirtland Central High School. Crowd starting to file in for the game.

6 p.m. — Still an hour before kickoff. Word is that the Broncos will start junior Tyler Beach at quarterback tonight against Grants. Beach played in the second half of last week's loss to Pagosa Springs, replacing Kragen Cadman, who'd been the starter since the beginning of the season. Cadman will move back to his receiver position for tonight's contest. 

1 p.m. — I spoke earlier with Aztec athletic director Bryan Sanders about the status of sporting events this weekend as it related to the high school being closed down due to COVID precautions. He assured me that this weekend's football game would be cancelled or postponed.

Noon — The MaxPreps poll, released on Monday, and the NMOT Coaches Poll, released later in the week, both show Farmington and Bloomfield atop their respective classifications. 

Here's a look at the most recent coaches poll. Let us know if you agree or disagree with the poll in the comments section.

The most recent NMOT coaches poll, released on Wednesday, Sept. 22.

8 a.m. — I've always been impressed with KC running back Zakk Thomas. I had the chance to watch him during the abbreviated spring season earlier this year, and he is a game-changer. He's done a lot of the heavy lifting for the Broncos offense this season (over 800 rushing yards and nearly a dozen touchdowns on the ground). He will be a major factor in the Broncos success tonight. 

Kirtland Central's Zakk Thomas fights for extra yards against Miyamura on Saturday, March 20, 2021, at Bill Cawood Field in Kirtland.
Kirtland Central’s Zakk Thomas runs down the left side after a catch on Saturday, March 13, 2021, at Bill Cawood Field in Kirtland.
Kirtland Central's Zakk Thomas tries to stay in-bounds running along the Broncos' sideline on Saturday, March 20, 2021, at Bill Cawood Field in Kirtland.

Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680