FARMINGTON – The Piedra Vista football team won the battle at the line of scrimmage and overpowered Miyamura to earn a 38-0 victory on senior night at Hutchison Stadium Friday.
“It feels great. Our defense got our first goose egg,” said senior Matt Gonzalez, who rushed for 86 yards and one touchdown in the win. “It kind of helps with it being senior night and to do it in front of our fans and with our parents watching.”
The shutout was the Panthers’ first of the season, and the key to keeping the Patriots out of the end zone was stopping Miyamura’s standout running back Alias Starkovich.
“That Starkovich kid, he’s a game breaker,” PV head coach Jared Howell said. “We didn’t want him to beat us. We were going to make them beat us with other people. Our goal was to make them work for every yard they got.”
The Panthers did just that, limiting Starkovich to just 40 yards rushing in the first half.
After a scoreless first quarter, PV got into the end zone with a bit of misdirection.
Facing third and 14 from the Miyamura 24, PV caught the Patriots over pursuing when quarterback Elijah Gamboa found Casey Simmons cutting back across the field, away from his blockers. Two Miyamura defenders converged on Simmons shy of the first down marker, but the senior broke through the pair of Patriots and found the end zone to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead with 11:49 left in the second quarter.
After the Patriots and Panthers traded turnovers, PV stopped Miyamura near midfield and forced the Patriots to punt. On the punt, junior Jason Compton broke through the Miyamura line and swatted the kick down.
“That was a huge boost,” Gonzales said of the blocked punt. “We came out kind of flat, but when we blocked the punt, we had good field position, and that kind of got us going. After that, we started to pick things up.”
PV (6-2, 2-0 District 1-5A) took over at the Miyamura 24-yard line, and two plays later, Gamboa punched it in from 1 yard out to make it 14-0 with 6:24 remaining in the first half.
Miyamura (3-4, 0-1) finally showed some life late in the second quarter, converting fourth and four on two separate occasions to get inside the 10-yard line. But the Patriots couldn’t punch it an and were forced to kick a field goal from 21 yards. The kick from the right hash was off target, and the game went to halftime with the Panthers leading 14-0.
Coming out of halftime, the Panthers began to impose their will in the running game and bullied their way 60 yards in 2:29 to break the game open at 21-0. The score came on a 5-yard run by senior Scott Ramirez, who finished the game with 126 yards on the ground.
Ramirez’s touchdown was set up by a rare passing play when Gamboa hit Gonzales for a 37-yard gain.
Gonzales got in on the scoring action during PV’s next possession, scoring on a 23-yard run to push the lead to 35-0 with 1:42 left in the third quarter.
Howell said the scoring explosion in the third quarter was the product of two things — halftime adjustments by the offensive coaching staff and the Panthers’ ability to wear down the Patriots with the running game.
“Those tough upfront games, it takes a little while to get momentum going on either side, and when you’re battling against them (Miyamura), it’s like chipping away at a rock wall. When you find a crack, you can work on it, but you have to find it first,” Howell said.
Christian Chavez put the exclamation point on the win, hitting a 45-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to provide for the 38-0 margin.
Piedra Vista will play at Aztec (3-5, 2-0) next week in a battle of the only two unbeaten teams remaining in the district.
“We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing,” Gonzales said. “We’ve got to keep fighting and going hard. We’re never satisfied.”
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.