BELEN — There was no lightning delay this time, but a tsunami of talent, size, speed and depth was too much Friday for Belen at Eagle Stadium.
Top ranked and defending 5A champion Artesia brought it all, defeating BHS (0-3) 51-0 in a contest that ended in the third quarter because of the 50-point mercy rule.
“They’re talented all over, on both sides and special teams,” is how BHS coach Kevin Peña described Artesia, which had plenty of support.
Five buses carried about 70 Artesia players, cheerleaders and the band, with the visitor’s section filled with fans.
The Bulldogs received the opening kickoff, and the Eagles’ players and coaches thought they had stopped Artesia (3-0) on a fourth-down run, but the officials disagreed.
The drive ended a few plays later when Artesia scored on a short-pass play.
Derian Rodriguez was a standout for the Eagles, helping BHS on offense and defense. Rodriguez gained solid yardage while running and receiving, plus made a finger-tipped interception.
But the BHS offense, without injured quarterback Ethan Thomas, was dogged by penalties and managed to get past midfield just once in the half. The Eagles totaled less than 100 yards for the game while Artesia was spreading the ball around to speedy running backs and receivers, easily chewing up yardage and scoring points.
The Eagles had several costly miscues in the kicking game. Artesia blocked a punt early in the second quarter, which was followed by a high snap that sailed over the Eagle punter’s head deep into the endzone.
After tracking the ball down, the punter booted into a stiff wind with the Bulldogs’ Josiah Rodriguez catching the ball inside the ten-yard line and taking it in for the touchdown. Artesia led 36-0 at halftime.
In the third quarter, another Belen punt proved costly. Artesia set up a score with a Statue of Liberty play, a misdirection return that confused the Eagles punt coverage.
The game soon ended with Artesia securing the 51-0 victory.
The Eagles seek their initial victory Friday at Valley.
“We need to block better, condition better, and keep fighting, keep that spirit up,” according to senior linebacker Augustine Lopez.
“We’ve got to believe in each other and the coaching staff,” Peña added. “I just want the kids to know we love them and we’re here for them.”
An impressive start to the season continued for Los Lunas (3-0) with the Tigers posting a 40-22 road victory over Farmington (2-1.) The Scorpions defeated the Tigers last season, starting an oh-for-September slide for LLHS.
“Last year’s loss burned,” LLHS coach Greg Henington admitted. “We were fired up for (Friday’s) game, for sure.”
Los Lunas came into the contest as 6A’s sixth ranked team, while Farmington was No. 4.
The Tigers offense was dominant throughout, riding the arm of quarterback Damacio Kaneshero, who tossed four touchdown passes and rushed for another.
Fabian Trujillo and Ethan Olguin each had two touchdown receptions. Gabe Marquez scored out of the wildcat formation and had two interceptions as well. Jason Ussery also picked off a pass, as the defense registered four turnovers and numerous sacks in key moments.
“It’s a tough place to play in the “Hutch,” Henington said of Farmington’s Hutchinson Stadium. “We got after them pretty darn good.”
The tough stretch continues for LLHS Friday at Roswell, the second-ranked team in 5A.
“The Roswell game last year burned even more,” Henington said of the loss to the Coyotes. “We’re going to bring that same fire,” the Tigers showed at Farmington.
The 4A Valencia Jaguars (2-0) had a bye week to prepare for a road trip to second ranked Portales (3-0.) The 4A Rams have given up just 14 points in three games while averaging 49 points per contest.
Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.