PV advances to 5A semifinals with 27-16 win

Karl Schneider

FARMINGTON – The Piedra Vista football team had extra motivation for today’s 5A quarterfinal game against Roswell.

PV lost to the Coyotes 19-10 on Oct. 3, and the Panthers returned the favor with a 27-16 victory at Hutchison Stadium to advance to the semifinals.

“We wanted a big game for redemption, and we know we’re good at home,” PV senior wide receiver Casey Simmons said. “Down there, we just didn’t feel like a team as much, and we felt like we needed to make a point and end their season because they talked a bunch of crap to us.”

Piedra Vista's Elijah Gamboa throws the ball on Saturday during a game against Roswell at Hutchison Stadium in Farmington.

Unlike the previous matchup, when PV was hurt by turnovers and penalties, the Panthers stayed composed from start to finish.

“The number of penalties and mistakes were way down for us,” PV head coach Jared Howell said. “It was a hard-fought game on both sides, and in hard-fought games, sometimes people give up plays with penalties, but today, it wasn’t the case.”

PV (9-2) held the Coyotes (8-5) to three plays and a punt on the opening drive.

After receiving the punt, PV drove 48 yards, scoring on an 8-yard run by junior quarterback Elijah Gamboa.

The Panthers held Roswell to another three and out on the Coyotes’ next possession, and added three more points with a 30-yard field goal from Christian Chavez to make it 10-0 with 3:32 remaining in the opening quarter.

“It’s always great if you can get a jump on them early, especially in the playoffs when everything is so hard fought for," Howell said. "If you can get some quick stuff early, it makes it a different game.”

PV controlled the first quarter, but Roswell got things going in the second quarter and had three scoring chances.

The first two came up empty after a 30-yard field goal attempt hit the left post, then the Coyotes lost a fumble at the PV 5-yard line. Roswell finally scored with 2:29 remaining in the second quarter when Luis Mendoza ran it in from 3 yards out. But the extra point following the touchdown was blocked, and the game went to halftime with a score of 10-6.

On the first play from scrimmage of the third quarter, PV’s Scott Ramirez broke through the Roswell defense for a 50-yard run down the left sideline.

The big run put the momentum on the Panthers’ side, but was almost taken away a few plays later. 

Piedra Vista's Scott Ramirez, a second-team All-State selection at two positions, picks up yardage on Nov. 21 during a game against Roswell at Hutchison Stadium in Farmington.

Gamboa hit Alex Shay across the middle, and when Shay was hit by three Coyotes, the ball came loose. The Coyotes jumped on it at the 2-yard line, but the officials ruled Shay already had been brought down to keep the ball in PV’s possession. Gamboa ran it in from the 2-yard line on the next play to make it 17-6.

The Coyotes connected on a 30-yard field goal on their next possession.

Early in the fourth quarter, with the Panthers up 17-9, Simmons made one of the best plays of the game.

Needing a first down, Gamboa underthrew Simmons, leaving his receiver in a one-on-one situation. Simmons and the Roswell defender jockeyed for position, and somehow the PV player found the ball in his hands for a first down.

“I was just trying to get open and I thought I was going to have to jump for it, but he (the Roswell defender) pushed me off. Somehow, it just landed in my hand,s and I was just shocked,” Simmons said.

Gamboa capped the drive with a 24-yard touchdown run down the left sideline, diving for the pylon to make it 24-9.

Roswell scored on an 11-yard run from Dominic Anaya to make it a one-possession game with 4:10 remaining.

But the Panthers put together a good drive to eat up some time, and pushed the lead to 27-16 when Chavez connected on a 35-yard field goal with 2:22 left to put the game out of reach.

Piedra Vista's Alex Shay snags a pass and runs with the ball on Saturday during a game against Roswell at Hutchison Stadium in Farmington.

PV will play at No. 2 Artesia next week. The Bulldogs (10-1) held off No. 7 St. Pius X 27-21 today to advance to the semifinals.

The Panthers saw Artesia in the quarterfinals last season with the Bulldogs winning 54-7 in Artesia.

“We have to go there because they (the NMAA) changed the rule — it’s if you have history with them in the semifinals. So we have to go there,” Howell said. “It seems like we didn’t catch a break on that one.”

Regardless, the Panthers are confident going into next week.

“Act like we can win. And we can win,” Gamboa said will be the message he’ll send to his teammates. “We’ve seen them before and know what we’re going to face. We’ve been studying them all year like we were going to play them, so I think if we prepare right, we’ll come out of there with another victory.”

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.