FARMINGTON — The Piedra Vista football team flexed its muscle and shut out rival Farmington 20-0 in its season opener tonight at a packed Hutchison Stadium.
The Panther defense implemented its game plan to perfection. Entering the game, PV defenders didn’t want to let the speedy FHS playmakers break through, and that’s exactly what they did.
“We just didn’t want to give up the big bomb,” Panther coach Jared Howell said. “We wanted to make them methodically move down the field and play the odds that a penalty, a big defensive play or one of those big drive killers would happen. It’s hard to drive the ball all the way down the field.”
Every drive of the game, for both sides, was a grueling fight. Both defenses went after the opposing offense with intensity. Considering the rivalry between the two schools and the nerves and emotions of the opening game, both Howell and Farmington coach Jeff Dalton said they were proud of the way the players stayed composed under the pressure.
“Both teams fought hard tonight. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a battle like that. Everyone was cramping up at the end, bleeding and just hurting,” Dalton said. “I would be willing to bet that Piedra Vista will say that game was a fight. Even though it was a 20-point game, it sure didn’t feel like it.”
PV won the coin toss and elected to receive the opening kick. After a short Farmington kick, the Panthers took over at their own 47-yard line.
It didn’t take long for PV (1-0) to break through the Scorps’ defense. The Panthers needed just six plays and 2:54 to find the end zone after Elijah Gamboa broke a 21-yard run for the score.
Farmington (0-1) caught a break on its first possession. Starting at their own 19-yard line, the Scorps tried to get fancy with quarterback Kody Becenti lateraling to wide receiver Justin Williams. Williams was under pressure right away, and his throw was easily intercepted by PV’s Christian Chavez. But on the return, Chavez coughed up the ball, and the Scorps recovered at their own 37.
But that was the only break the Scorps got in the first half. Throughout the game, every time Farmington got its offense rolling, penalties would kill its momentum.
“I think Piedra Vista was a little more mentally prepared tonight,” Dalton said. “Every game comes down to four or five plays, and tonight, Piedra Vista capitalized, and we made mistakes. That writes the story of the game.”
After the two sides traded three and outs, PV’s offense got rolling again, this time with its passing game. First, Gamboa found Isreal Murry up the seam for a 30-yard gain, then Brandon Montoya hit Jason Compton for a 19-yard TD with 1:46 remaining in the first quarter.
The FHS offense finally found a rhythm after PV’s second score and picked its way down the field.
Facing fourth and six from the PV 37, Becenti threw a jump ball to Donovan Gonzalez down the left sideline. Gonzalez fought off the PV cornerback for the catch and galloped into the end zone, but the score was negated after it was ruled that Gonzalez had stepped out of bounds before catching the ball. The play resulted in a loss of down, giving possession to the Panthers.
Midway through the second quarter, the PV defense stripped FHS running back Axel Fowler of the ball, and Logan Cooper came up with the fumble recovery. The Panthers ate up the next few minutes of the clock, bullying their way down the field and ending the drive with a 19-yard TD run by Gamboa to make it 20-0 with 2:46 left before halftime.
The Scorps put together a good drive to start the third quarter. After starting at their own 23, they drove down to the PV 14, but penalties piled up to push them back to the 30 facing fourth and 18. On fourth and long, Becenti had nowhere to throw, tucked the ball and scampered inside the 10-yard line for a first down. Three plays later, facing third and goal from the 8-yard line, Becenti threw to the end zone but was picked off by Gamboa.
FHS had more chances to avoid the shutout, getting deep into PV territory, but could never break through.
Farmington will host Del Norte (0-1) on Friday.
Piedra Vista will travel to Roswell next week to face Goddard (1-0).
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.