KIRTLAND — Kirtland Central football coach Greg Jenks' voice was nearly gone at the conclusion of his team's 41-27 win over Bloomfield tonight, but that wasn't going to stop him from letting out a few more celebratory yells on the Bronco Stadium field.
"It feels incredibly good," Jenks said. "I have the utmost respect for (Bloomfield) coach (Bob) Allcorn. I think he's a classy, classy guy. He's a guy I try to model some of my coaching after, so, I feel humbled."
Jenks had good reason to feel so high after he was down so low last week. Kirtland Central (5-3, 1-3 District 1-5A) was obliterated 50-14 on its home field by Miyamura in that game, so the coach said this past week of practice was dedicated to building character in his players.
The Broncos certainly responded by beating the same rival that downed them 48-13 last season. Tonight, when they were down 27-20 late in the third quarter, the Broncos stampeded to 21 points and rode a wave of momentum to their first district win.
The action-packed game featured five lead changes, the first of which came when KC's Zach Van Duren returned a kickoff 81 yards to make it a 7-6 contest in favor of the Broncos.
On the preceding touchdown, a Kyle Burkholder 6-yard run for Bloomfield (4-5, 1-3), Allcorn noticed his team didn't appear fired up after taking the early lead. Allcorn said that was an ominous precursor for Bloomfield's night.
"I didn't feel we came in ready to play tonight for some reason, and that goes on me," Allcorn said. "We came in pretty passive. Perfect example is we scored our first touchdown, and there was hardly any emotion on the sideline. And then discipline wise, it was not doing the things we need to do in lots of areas."
Bloomfield managed to take a 19-13 lead into halftime, thanks to nearly 50 first-half yards on the ground from Rudy Vigil and a second Kyle Burkholder TD, but the second half was almost all Broncos.
After the KC defense forced a turnover on downs, Van Duren picked up a huge 50-yard run to entrench KC deep in Bloomfield territory. A few plays later, Bryson Dowdy scored on a 1-yard keeper to give his team a brief lead.
A failed onside kick attempt by the Broncos gave Bloomfield decent field possession, and the visitors took advantage, capping a three-play, 48-yard drive with Burkholder's third TD of the night.
The Broncos weren't done fighting, though, as Dowdy rushed for a TD late in the third quarter and threw another one to Cadan Flack early in the fourth to give his team a 34-27 lead. Sandwiched in between the two scores was a Bloomfield three-and-out possession.
With less than four minutes to go in the third, Broncos kicker Tyler Jenks attempted his team's fourth onside kick of the night, and KC finally recovered one. Jenks, the son of the head coach, was money for the Broncos in the win. The freshman was two for two on field goal attempts and four for four on extra points, and he booted the game-changing onside kick.
"He grew up playing soccer. I know it might be weird for a football coach to have his son play soccer," Jenks said. "But I think it's a wonderful sport that teaches you some good skills that transfer over to football."
KC then capitalized on a gassed Bobcat defense and punctuated an eight-play drive with a short Derek Curley TD run to give the hosts a commanding 41-27 advantage.
The desperate Bobcats got past midfield with around four minutes to go in the game, but four penalties in five plays and a sound effort from KC's defense stopped Bloomfield from even making it a one-score game.
KC middle linebacker and team captain Donnie Walker missed the game with concussion-like symptoms, but coach Jenks said his presence was felt during the Broncos' last stop.
"There's nobody that plays defense like (Walker) does for us. And the chants on the sideline, they were yelling, 'Donnie time' for Donnie Walker," Jenks said. "And I really believe they fed off of that, and (it) provided them with the energy to make the plays."
The loss shatters any playoff hopes Bloomfield had coming into the game. The Bobcats draw a tough match-up next week when Farmington (3-5-1, 3-1) pays them a visit.
KC goes on the road to play Gallup (2-7, 0-4).
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.