FARMINGTON — The Farmington football team pushed No. 2 St. Pius X to the brink, but came up empty and fell 41-32 in a 5A quarterfinal matchup tonight at Nusenda Community Stadium in Albuquerque.
The No. 10 Scorps put together a charge late in the fourth quarter, cutting what was a 34-19 deficit to 34-32 with a chance to tie. But Farmington’s two-point conversion failed.
"There were a few times when probably everyone in the world thought we were down and out except for the guys on the field," said Farmington coach Jeff Dalton. "There’s no other way to put it than they completely sold out and believed, and they fought until the very last second of the game."
With about 2:30 left in the game, Farmington had one more chance to score the upset. After a failed onside kick, Farmington forced Pius into a third-and-6 situation at midfield. Needing a stop, the Scorps sent a blitz at Pius quarterback Drew Ortiz. But Ortiz got rid of the ball quickly, finding a receiver across the middle, who sprinted into the end zone to secure the victory.
Offense highlighted the first quarter. Pius (10-1) took the opening possession 77 yards for a touchdown, only to have Farmington (5-6-1) answer on its first possession.
The Sartans put together another long drive on their second possession, driving 74 yards for another score to make it 15-6.
The defenses shined in the second quarter. The Sartans and Scorps came up with two interceptions each in the quarter, and both stopped the other on fourth downs.
"I think we just settled in and got a feel for their speed. We’ve taken pride in our speed all year, and this was really one of the first teams that matched our speed across the board," Dalton said. "Ortiz got going, but we were able to control him and the run after the first two series, and that made them a little more one dimensional."
The offenses opened up again in the second half.
After missing a field goal on the opening possession of the third quarter, the Scorps forced another turnover, this time a fumble they recovered and returned to the 2-yard line.
Two plays later, Farmington quarterback Kody Becenti hit Sol Rascon in the end zone for a touchdown, bringing the score to 15-12.
But the Sartans responded on their next possession, extending their lead to 21-12.
Farmington cut into the lead again on its next possession, getting in the end zone on a Becenti 3-yard run to make it 21-19 late in the third quarter.
Again Pius answered. With the ball at the 5-yard line, Farmington deflected an Ortiz pass, but the ball fell to a Pius receiver for a touchdown. Farmington stopped Pius on a two-point conversion, keeping the Scorps within one possession with a score of 27-19.
The Sartans extended the lead to 34-19 after a long Ortiz touchdown run with 5:58 left in the game.
Farmington kept fighting, getting another touchdown when Becenti connected with a leaping Jacob Brown in the end zone, making it 26-34.
Farmington held Pius to a three-and-out on the Sartans' next possession, and after a terrible punt of less than 10 yards, Farmington had the ball at the Sartans’ 29-yard line.
On the first play of the possession, Becenti connected with Brown, streaking up the seam for a score to make it 34-32.
After a tumultuous start to the year, falling to 0-4-1, the Scorps turned their season around to make a run in the playoffs.
"I think the one word that defines this team is perseverance. These guys showed it every game this year. Every game we were down, there was never any quit in these guys," Dalton said. "Being down 0-4-1, you never saw any doubt — you just saw fight. I’ve never seen a group of kids with their backs against the wall so many times only to dust themselves off and get after it again. I admire this group of kids for their heart."
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.