FARMINGTON — The Piedra Vista football team simply got worn down in the second half and couldn’t keep up with Volcano Vista tonight.
The Panthers battled back to cut Volcano Vista’s lead to 28-21 midway through the third quarter, but couldn’t maintain the tempo or intensity, eventually falling 56-21 at Hutchison Stadium.
“We had some plays where we had an athlete one on one, and their athlete beat our athlete. They have some really good athletes and probably have the most speed in the district, maybe in the state. They’re a track team,” PV coach Jared Howell said. “I think we were hanging in there and just ran out of gas. It was 28-21 right at the end of the third quarter, and then the wheels fell off.”
The Hawks (7-2, 2-1 District 1-6A) only needed a couple of plays to get into the end zone.
After stopping PV (5-4, 0-3) on the opening possession of the game, VV took over at its own 43. Following a short run from Chris Streetz, Hawks’ quarterback Dillon Gassoway hit Abram Schaap, who ran past the PV secondary as if the Panthers were standing still for a 54-yard touchdown.
But after the quick TD toss, the two offenses struggled to get into a rhythm as flying penalty flags were a common sight on almost every possession.
“Both teams really had trouble getting into a rhythm with the penalties,” Howell said. “On one of our drives, there was a penalty every play. There’s no kind of rhythm right there.”
The Panthers put together a good drive on their third possession, mostly as the result of a 43-yard run from Avery Norton. Norton’s run moved PV to the Hawks’ 36-yard line, but penalties pushed PV back near midfield.
Unable to regain the yards lost on the penalties, PV was forced to punt, but the punt was blocked, giving possession back to VV at its own 48. VV went on to score on a 13-yard TD pass from Gassoway to David Cormier with 7:28 left before halftime.
VV stopped PV on the Panthers’ next possession and forced a punt. Following a good punt from PV, the Hawks were set to start around their own 40-yard line, but multiple penalties forced a replay of the down. And this time, VV’s Joren Dickey blocked the punt, then recovered the ball at the PV 4-yard line.
Streetz took it in on the first play to extend the Hawks’ lead to 21-0 with 6:10 left in the second.
The loss also marked the second week in a row that the Panthers’ special teams struggled, allowing two blocked punts in the first half the Hawks quickly turned into touchdowns.
Howell said the biggest issue with his special teams is the fact that the team has had to rely on younger players who are filling in for injured starters and simply aren’t ready for the level of competition at the 6A level.
“It’s kind of what we’re left with. We’re forced into some situations where we have a liability, and (VV) capitalized,” Howell said. “It’s tough.”
PV scored its first points in District 1-6A in the closing minutes of the second quarter when quarterback Elijah Gamboa took the ball in the end zone on a read option from 3 yards out.
After trading three-and-out posessions with the Panthers to start the third quarter, Volcano Vista found the end zone on its second possession of the quarter with a Gassoway 2-yard run to push the Hawks’ lead to 28-7.
PV caught the Hawks off guard with a bit of trickery. Facing a fourth-and-6 situation, PV went with a direct snap to Avery Norton while Gamboa was calling out to the offensive line. Norton ran left and tossed the ball to Brandon Montoya on the reverse, who then threw to a wide-open Gamboa on the right side for the TD.
The Panthers pulled within a touchdown late in the third quarter with a 9-yard run from Gamboa to cut the deficit to 28-21 with 1:59 left in the quarter.
VV didn’t let it stay close for very long, taking the ensuing possession into the end zone on a Gassoway 3-yard run.
Streetz extended the lead with two more TD runs in the fourth quarter.
Gassoway closed out the game with a long strike to Austin Blaisure in the final 90 seconds.
PV will end its season next week, travelling to Rio Rancho to take on the unbeaten Rams (8-0, 2-0).
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.