Belen — Belen opened a new era for the program on Friday night against Del Norte and they brought it in with a bang. The Eagles defeated the Knights 24-21 behind a massive first quarter and gave head coach Ty House his first win.
“Coming out with the first win is pretty surreal, I don’t quite know the emotions to describe it,” House said. “I’m happy; I feel like I’m tearing up a little bit. I’m so happy for these kids and this community.”
BHS came out firing on all cylinders and took a 17-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. The defense didn’t allow a first down for the entirety of the quarter. Touchdown passes to Sefe Aragon and Ben Hirschfeld combined with a field goal put the Eagles up big early.
The pace of the game slowed down considerably in the second quarter and Del Norte found some answers for Belen’s offense to hold them off the board. The Knights’ offense didn’t have quite the same success, but did score once on a 14-yard run by Isaiah Ortiz.
In the second half, it appeared like the Knights were in a position to come back. The BHS offense had run out of steam and there were finally some cracks in the defense. Luke Aragon drove the Eagles offense down the field and the team was inside the red zone when he had a pass tipped and intercepted to set Del Norte up at its own 10. They drove the length of the field and had a fresh set of downs inside the 10.
The Eagles defense came up big and forced a turnover on downs, but the offense sputtered and went three-and-out. The Knights had a short field after the punt and didn’t miss the opportunity, scoring their second touchdown of the game to pull within three, 17-14 with three minutes remaining in the third.
The score remained the same heading into the fourth, and the Eagles struck next. Aragon found Daniel Hanson streaking down the sideline for a 38-yard touchdown to put BHS up 24-14. It gave the Eagles their first points since the first quarter.
The defense appeared to have Del Norte stopped on their next drive, but consecutive offsides penalties on a fourth-and-six gave the Knights new life. They scored to cut the deficit to three again, 24-21.
Del Norte was able to stop the Eagles offense from extending the lead and forced a punt from near midfield. The Knights got an opportunity to get the ball back with 1:30 to play. Ben Hirschfield came on to punt and waited just long enough to allow the Eagles gunners to get downfield to prevent a return. The punt was muffed by a Knights player, who lunged at the ball after a wild hop. Belen recovered and was able to seal the win.
“My first thought was how many timeouts do they have,” House said. “So I called up to the box on my headset and they said (Del Norte) was out of them, and then I could say, ‘we won,’ so that was pretty cool.”
The Eagles will take on Farmington next on the road, with the game scheduled to kickoff at 7 p.m. Friday. The Scorpions are also 1-0 on the year after beating Kirtland Central 55-33 behind 26 points in the final quarter and a half.
Quarterback Caleb Carrillo is the focal point and best weapon the Scorpions have at their disposal, and will be a big test for the Eagles defense following a strong week one showing.
Los Lunas High School
The Tigers opened the season on the road against Piedra Vista and beat the Panthers with ease, 28-0.
The Tigers travel this week to take on Clovis. The Wildcats are 1-0 on the season after defeating Hobbs last Friday, 42-16.
Clovis junior Jeston Webskowski is a workhorse at the running back spot, scoring five touchdowns against Hobbs. The game will start at 7 p.m.
Valencia High School
The Jaguars were down 8-0 after one quarter in Alamogordo before the game was delayed and eventually cancelled due to weather.
The Tigers scored twice, scoring a touchdown and missing an extra point, followed by a safety on a Valencia punt.
Because it didn’t reach halftime, the game is not official and just gets wiped from the schedule. Officially, Valencia will play a nine-game regular season schedule.
The Jaguars head to Albuquerque this week to take on Highland at 7 p.m. on Friday in the second attempt at a season opener.
The Hornets beat Rio Grande last week 42-18 in their opener and were 1-9 a season ago.