The Tucumcari Rattlers beat the Hatch Bears 21-7 Friday night in the season-opener for both teams.
The Bears offense was moving quickly downfield with less than a minute left to play. Trailing by 14 the Bears’ efforts were for merit more than necessity.
Set at the Tucumcari 15-yard line, the Bears sophomore quarterback Chase Carson threw to the corner of the end zone looking for junior tight end Alex Salazar.
Carson had connected with Salazar earlier in the final period for the teams only touchdown. Rattlers junior cornerback Dillon Wood stayed with Salazar and intercepted the ball to seal the win.
“The guys played a strong game tonight,” Rattlers head coach Wayne Ferguson said.
Bears head coach Jack Cisco said his sophomore quarterback is still getting the feel for the system.
“He is going to have to learn to deal with and avoid those turnovers,” Cisco said.
Carson threw two interceptions in the final period. The first was picked off by senior free safety George Montano. Montano ran the ball back for a touchdown, increasing the Rattlers lead to 21-7.
“It is exciting,” Montano said. “This games had its ups and downs, but the guys played great.”
Friday was Montano’s 18th birthday.
Montano scored on offense during the first quarter — on a 36-yard pass from junior quarterback Luke Smith. Running back senior Leon Vigil scored first on a 27-yard run.
Ferguson said one positive note was playing through the second half.
“In the past, the team has slowed down and lulled in the second half,” Ferguson said. “Tonight they stopped that trend with solid play.
Ferguson said the team may have not scored on offense in the second half, though they managed to control the clock.
“I told the other running backs we are going keep our feet moving, nothing was going to stop us,” Montano said.
“Our Offense had some mistakes,” Ferguson said. “So did defense and so did the coach. All we can do is keep working on it.”