Eagles out in first round of football playoffs; Kirtland Central volleyball fights on
FARMINGTON — The first round of the New Mexico Activities Association State Football Championships got underway in Class 3A through 5A Friday night with Hope Christian pulling away in the second half to defeat Navajo Prep 57-36.
The tournament continues Saturday afternoon before next weekend's quarterfinals action.
Meantime, the final days of the prep volleyball season are here, with brackets and seedings set to be announced Sunday evening for the NMAA State Volleyball Championships.
Here's a look back at some of the highlights from sports action involving San Juan County teams.
HOPE CHRISTIAN 57, Navajo Prep 36
The eighth-seeded Hope Christian Huskies got dominant performances from senior quarterback James Jenkins and junior running back Brett Miller as they outscored Navajo Prep Friday night by a final of 57-36 at Wilson Stadium in Albuquerque, advancing to the second round of the Class 3A State Football Championships.
Jenkins ran for five touchdowns, amassing more than 230 yards on the ground, while Miller scored a pair of touchdowns in the win, as Navajo Prep's defense appeared to have little answer in efforts to slow down the Huskies attack in the second half.
The ninth-seeded Navajo Prep went into the locker room at halftime trailing 21-16 after quarterback Dontrelle Denetso scored a pair of rushing touchdowns, and had the lead briefly in the third quarter when the Eagles scored on their opening possession of the second half.
In the opening minutes of the second quarter, with the Eagles trailing 7-0, Denetso scored the first of his two touchdowns when he scampered around the edge for an 18-yard touchdown followed up by a successful 2-point conversion.
That 8-7 lead was short-lived however, as the score was followed up by an unsuccessful onside kick attempt, which Hope Christian recovered and quickly converted into a touchdown when Jenkins took the snap from the Huskies 47-yard line and sprinted for a 53-yard touchdown.
The Huskies scored again on their next possession after Navajo Prep punted the ball away, as once again Jenkins culminated a long drive with a 15-yard rushing touchdown, extending Hope Christian's lead to 20-6.
Just moments before halftime, the Eagles closed the gap when Denetso found a crease in the Huskies defense, scoring from 16 yards out. Kyun Tate scored the 2-point conversion, giving the Huskies a 4-point advantage at the half.
Navajo Prep started the second half with the ball, and took advantage right away, erasing their early deficit with a touchdown run from Tate that gave back the lead to the Eagles 22-21.
Once again though, the Eagles defense surrendered that lead as Hope Christian methodically ran the ball down the field, chewing up clock midway through the third quarter on a drive that ended with another Jenkins score, this time from 15 yards out. The 2-point conversion pass play to Miller was successful and the Huskies had the lead for good at that point, going up 29-22.
The Eagles next drive, late in the third quarter, ended with a turnover on downs after a failed attempt on a fourth down conversion play inside the Huskies red zone. With the ball back in Hope Christian's hands, Jenkins made them pay immediately.
Jenkins, who came into the game as the team's leading scorer with 29 touchdowns to his credit this season, sprinted down the right sideline for a 76-yard touchdown run which gave the Huskies a 14-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Eagles offense stalled at that point, and the Huskies again took advantage quickly on their first possession of the fourth quarter when Jenkins again got ahead of the Navajo Prep defense for his fifth scoring play, extending the lead to 43-22 early in the final quarter.
As the outcome began to appear more evident, both teams traded touchdowns late in the game, with Navajo Prep's Alex Wells scoring late in the fourth quarter to narrow the final margin.
In addition to scoring a pair of touchdowns, Miller ran for nearly 100 yards on the night and helped propel Hope Christian (7-4) into the quarterfinals of the state tournament and a showdown on the road next weekend against top-seeded and unbeaten Raton.
Navajo Prep finishes the season with a record of 5-6 and for the third time in their last four playoff appearances, sees their season come to an end in the opening round of the playoffs.
For more information and current brackets and seedings for the State Football Championships, check the official tournament website.
KIRTLAND CENTRAL 3, Bloomfield 2
The Kirtland Central volleyball team wrapped up its regular season Thursday night with a three games to two victory at home against district rival Bloomfield.
The victory puts the Broncos (13-9 overall, 7-3 District 1-4A) in second place in the district standings, three games back of Gallup, who wrapped up their district campaign with a perfect 10-0 record.
Bloomfield won the opening set 25-18 before Kirtland Central evened the match with a 25-13 victory in the second set. The Bobcats won the third set 25-22 before the Broncos rallied, winning the fourth set 25-23 and winning the fifth and decisive set by a final score of 15-10.
The Kirtland Central victory completes a season sweep for the Broncos over the Bobcats. In addition to winning both district matches, Kirtland Central also beat Bloomfield in a tournament match on Sept. 25.
The Broncos will learn this weekend whether they'll be invited to play in the Class 4A State Volleyball Championships. Tournament brackets and seedings will be announced by the New Mexico Activities Association on Sunday at 4 p.m.
The Bobcats finished the regular season with an overall record of 10-11 and 5-5 in district play.
GALLUP 3, Aztec 0
The Gallup Bengals wrapped up the District 1-4A portion of the regular season on a perfect note, sweeping Aztec three games to none and finishing the district campaign with an unblemished record of 10-0.
Ranked fifth in Class 4A by MaxPreps, the Bengals finish the regular season with a 12-match win streak and head into the State Volleyball Championships with an overall record of 18-5.
Gallup won the match over Aztec by scores of 25-8, 25-17 and 25-15, completing a season sweep of the Tigers after having beaten them by a similar three games to none margin on Oct. 20.
The seedings and brackets for the tournament will be announced Sunday at 4 p.m.
For more information on the upcoming volleyball tournament, check out the official NMAA website.
Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680.