One week after a New Mexico Activities Association imposed forfeit, Belen (0-6) parlayed five turnovers into a near upset of Las Cruces Mayfield in the Eagles’ homecoming game. Instead, the 22-20 setback keeps the Eagles winless.
The Trojans (3-2) used a fake punt on the opening drive of the game to move inside the red zone but fumbled at the six-yard line.
Belen’s Damian Avila was involved in forcing three Mayfield fumbles inside the 20-yard line.
Eagles’ senior running back Derian Rodriguez scored the first of his three touchdowns to give BHS a 7-0 first quarter advantage.
After a Mayfield touchdown, the Eagles’ Logan Gonzalez stopped another Trojans’ drive with an interception. When Rodriguez punched it in, the Eagles led 14-7 at halftime.
Like the Sept. 9 game between Belen and Valley that led to NMAA sanctions, this contest was “chippy,” with numerous penalties. The intensity picked up in the third quarter, with an unsportsmanlike penalty against Belen and personal foul penalties assessed to both teams.
Mayfield turned a hurried Belen punt that went zero yards into a touchdown to pull within 14-13. On the extra point kick, a bad snap forced the holder to run, managing to break the goal line to put the Trojans up for good 15-14.
Mayfield built the lead to 22-14 in the fourth quarter, and as the jawing between players continued, Belen coach Kevin Peña called time out to remind his players to keep their composure.
With six minutes left, Rodriguez scored his final TD on a 22-yard swerving run down the sideline.
“It was 29-sweep to the outside,” Rodriguez said of the play. “I just had to beat two guys. I have pretty good balance, if I say so. Just staying in bounds and diving for the endzone.”
The two-point try by Avila to tie the game was stopped just short. Mayfield hung on for the 22-20 victory.
“Our kids played strong today. They came out ready to play,” said Peña, who felt if the Eagles “cut down on some penalties — it might have been a different game.”
The Eagles conclude the non-district schedule Friday at Roswell Goddard.
It may have been the rare occasion when Belen fans were cheering on the Los Lunas Tigers. After all, the Tigers were playing Valley (3-2), the same team the Eagles skirmished with that lead both teams to receive NMAA punishment.
LLHS (4-2) may not have needed extra motivation after a blowout loss to Roswell. The Tigers made short work of Valley, which was minus several players who were suspended for their roles in the Belen brouhaha.
Ethan Olguin took a screen pass to the endzone on the Tigers’ first play from scrimmage to get it started.
Los Lunas led 48-7 at the half and ended the game on the 50-point mercy rule in the fourth quarter, 61-7.
“We wore them down pretty good, and used the passing game efficiently,” Tigers’ coach Greg Henington said. “I was really excited to see guys like Brett Mansfield, J’den and Jordon Howard get the ball. Our young group moved the ball efficiently.”
Five different Tigers scored rushing TD’s, including two by Jordan Howard. Fabian Trujillo and Lorenzo Ibarra also scored on kickoff returns.
LLHS starts district play Friday at home against Santa Fe Capital.
Valencia (3-2) ran up against the third-ranked team in 4A and the hosts were run over Friday by visiting Bloomfield, 50-0, in a game called early because of the 50-point mercy rule.
“It was the first time we played a team that fast,” said VHS coach LeDarrius Cage. “A lot of simple mistakes turned into some bad plays for us.”
Mistakes included an interception on the first play of the game and later a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.
Bloomfield led 38-0 at the half and went on to post the shutout. Another tough test is Friday when the Jaguars travel to 5A Gadsden (4-2.)
“It’s good to get a look at the top teams,” Cage said about Gadsden, “which could help prepare us as we get closer to district.”
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.