By Chris Schmaedeke: QCSun managing editor
Tucumcari grabbed an early lead, but dropped its first game of the season Friday night, 42-34, to the Capitan Tigers.
The Rattlers (3-1) scored the first 14 points of the game and it looked like another rout was on. Tucumcari had won its first three games by an average of almost 27 points.
But Capitan (2-2) scored the next 34 points and held on late for the win to spoil homecoming for the Rattlers.
“Tiredness was a huge factor,” Rattlers quarterback Alex Hutchins said. “We were working hard and just kept pushing, pushing, pushing.”
Hutchins finished the game with two long rushing touchdowns and had an 18-yard touchdown pass to Jackus Martinez on a night the Rattlers honored their 2002 state champion team.
The Tigers had a three-headed rushing attack with quarterback Rudy Chavez and running backs Colton Hufford and Christian Quiroz. Quiroz was the biggest headache for the Tucumcari defense. He found plenty of holes behind the left side of his offensive line.
“I guess the left side was just a little more pumped up,” Quiroz said. “I tried to keep them hyped up.”
In the second half, the Rattlers made their push to get back in the game. After being down by 20, touchdowns by Hutchins and Martinez cut the lead to six. But Tucumcari never got closer.
Tucumcari had a chance to tie or take the lead late in the game but a failed fourth-down conversion ended the drive and set up Capitan’s final score. The Rattlers failed on fourth down five times in the game, including three times in their own territory.
“The risk is worth it,” Hutchins said. “That’s football.”
Although the Rattlers defense came up with big plays including a fourth-and-1 stop by linebacker Jantzen Darnell and a blocked punt by Chris Hatman, the team could never come up with the stop it needed as the defense seem to become winded.
“We will be working on conditioning this week for sure,” Hutchins said.