By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
The Tucumcari Rattlers won the battle of the trenches Friday night, beating Texico 35-26 at Rattler Stadium.
The final two touchdowns of the game may have been scored by the Wolverines – who are now 1-1 on the young season — but the Rattlers dominated the game.
“We have to make sure that we focus, and complete our assignments on the field,” said Wayne Ferguson, Rattlers head coach.
Ferguson said the final two scores, a 72-yard passing touchdown and 36-yard punt return for a touchdown, were the result of the Rattlers not following through on their assignments. He said the team was excited about the win and lost focus. There was a lapse in the coverage that allowed a receiver to get open downfield and a botched snap on a punt put the Wolverines in the end zone twice in the final three minutes of the game, Ferguson added.
“We cannot afford to lose focus like that and give the other team a chance to score quick,” Ferguson said. “We need to make the right adjustments and focus until the end of the game.”
Making the right adjustments is exactly what the Wolverines failed to due against a tough Rattlers team, said Texico head coach Ryan Autrey.
Autrey said the Wolverines did not make needed adjustments to answer the Rattlers defense, which kept them scoreless for most of the second half.
A week earlier, the Wolverines rushed for more than 400 yards in their 26-8 win over Santa Rosa.
Against the Rattlers, the Wolverines were held to 14 yards rushing, with most of that coming from running back Mason Golden. Wolverines quarterback Lance Myers was rushed by the Rattlers defense. He was sacked by defensive tackle Antonio Norton Jr. three times; Norton also had several assisted tackles in the backfield.
“Coach told me to get back there and that is exactly what I did,” Norton said.
Norton said the Rattlers’ defense came out with intensity and needs to continue that as the season progresses.
Autrey said the Wolverines faced a completely different defensive style from the Rattlers. He said the Wolverines can learn a lot from facing such a physical team and looks forward to seeing Tucumcari later in the season.
Rattlers wide receiver Zedric Henderson Greene had several passes slip just out of reach during the game. Greene said he knew he had lost focus and was determined to make it up to his team.
Greene did just that when he caught quarterback Tyler Ferguson’s pass and ran 58 yards for a touchdown.
“We have to keep believing in each other and coming out with intensity from the very start,” Tyler Ferguson said.
The Rattlers, who also are 1-1, were held scoreless by the Wolverines in the first quarter but a stout running game and well-placed passes put them on the board in the final three quarters.
“We can’t hang our heads when we get down in the game,” said Tyler Ferguson. “We’ve got to pick each other up and push forward.”
Running back Daniel Lopez led the offense for the Rattlers, gaining 239 yards on 18 carries; he scored three rushing downs and returned a punt for a fourth score.
“I owe my success tonight to my offensive line,” Lopez said.
Lopez said the Rattlers’ offensive line created gaps and made the blocks that allowed him to find a rushing lane. He said even when he was hit, he kept moving his feet and wasn’t going to let a fumble early in the game stop him.