Tigers get redemption in 62-31 mauling of Cobre

Aztec unveils speed option, opening up a Tiger offense that found the end zone on its first eight possessions of the game

Karl Schneider
  • Aztec QB Cody Smith finished the day with seven total touchdowns
  • Justin Black led the Tigers' receiving corps with three touchdown grabs
  • The win avenged a 62-26 loss to Cobre last season

AZTEC — A lot can change in a year.

Aztec's Sebastian McNeal hauls in a catch during a game against Cobre on Saturday at Fred Cook Memorial Stadium in Aztec.

Last season, the Aztec football team got creamed by Cobre by 36 points. But the Tigers returned the favor this afternoon, steamrolling Cobre for a 62-31 win at Fred Cook Memorial Stadium.

Aztec asserted its dominance early and held Cobre to 7 yards on its opening drive, then went on to score touchdowns on its first eight possessions while adding a new wrinkle to its offense with a speed option.

Facing third and 9 from the Cobre 38, Aztec quarterback Cody Smith ran right on the option, faked the pitch to his running back and cut up field, going 38 yards untouched for the first TD of the game.

The success with the option opened up the passing game to help set up four touchdown passes of more than 30 yards

“We’ve been tinkering with it for the last couple of weeks but waited to unveil it,” Aztec coach Matthew Steinfeldt said of the option. “We’ve worked on it the last few weeks and felt like this was a good time to work it into the game.”

Aztec's Cody Smith scores scores a touchdown against Cobre on Saturday at Fred Cook Memorial Stadium in Aztec.

Cobre (1-4) answered with a touchdown on its ensuing possession, driving 80 yards for the score. After Cobre receivers dropped two passes in the end zone, quarterback Andru Sanchez kept the ball himself, going the final 29 yards on the ground in five plays to get the TD on a 5-yard run.

The tie didn’t last long. Aztec (2-3) was back in the end zone after three plays, thanks to a 61-yard scoring toss from Smith to Justin Black.

The TD was the first of three for Black, who scored on 62- and 31-yard receptions later in the game. He also had an interception on defense.

Aztec's Justin Black intercepts a pass during against Cobre on Saturday at Fred Cook Memorial Stadium in Aztec.

“We’ve played together since we were young, and we’ve always had that connection,” Black said of his chemistry with Smith on the field. “Most of the time, we’re on the same page. I trust him. He puts the ball where I want it, and he knows I’m going to do everything I can to make a play for him.”

Aztec switched up its offense for its third possession, moving Kyler Duggins to quarterback and Smith to running back to run the option. With the new lineup, the Tigers completed a 76-yard touchdown drive that ended when Duggins found Sebastian McNeal for a 15-yard TD reception.

Smith added touchdowns with a 24-yard pass to McNeal and 3-yard run to extend the lead to 34-7 late in the second quarter.

After Cobre scored with just more than two minutes left before halftime, Aztec ran its two-minute offense and found the end zone on a Zane Bradshaw 2-yard run.

But the Tigers left one minute on the clock, which was enough time for Cobre to drive down the field and set up a 31-yard field as time expired, sending the game to halftime with the Tigers leading 41-17.

Aztec's Zach Taylor gets knocked out of bounds shy of the goal line by Cobre's Jimmy Rico on Saturday at Fred Cook Memorial Stadium in Aztec.

Not much changed for the Tigers in the second half. Aztec took its opening possession 61 yards, ending with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Orlando Valenzuela.

The Tigers’ next two scores came on Smith-to-Black connections, extending the lead to 62-31 midway through the fourth quarter.

Aztec will be off next week, then opens play in District 1-5A by hosting Kirtland Central (4-1) for the Tigers' homecoming game.

“Kirtland (Central) has started off extremely well this season. I haven’t been able to see much on them yet, but I know they’ve been winning games, and I think anytime a team walks into district with four wins like they’ll have, you’re going to be feeling pretty good,” Steinfeldt said. “That’s a team we need to spend some time looking at and make a plan for them.”

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