By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
The Tucumcari Rattlers ran to their first win of the season on Friday night, thumping Clayton, 35-13, at Rattler Stadium.
The Rattlers rushed for 309 yards and five touchdowns in their District 3-3A opener.
“We want to thank all the fans who didn’t give up on us,” said Wayne Ferguson, Rattlers head coach.
Tucumcari improved to 1-6 for the season. Clayton fell to 0-7 overall, 0-2 in district play.
“The tough games we played were preparing us for the start of district,” Ferguson said.
Kyle Lopez, Xavier Garcia and Michael Shelton all ran the ball effectively against Clayton.
Lopez rushed for 87 yards and two touchdowns; Garcia rushed for 79 yards and two touchdowns; and Shelton rushed for 139 yards and one touchdown.
“The offensive line did a great job of opening up running lanes,” Garcia said. “We did not take the Yellowjackets lightly and knew we had to lower our shoulders and fight for every yard.”
On defense, the Rattlers held the Yellowjackets to 169 yards and one offensive touchdown. Twice the Rattlers’ defense stopped the Yellowjackets from scoring from inside the 10-yard line.
“Our defense did a great job of shutting down the running lanes,” Ferguson said.
Clayton was hampered by 13 penalties for 79 yards. The penalties stalled Yellowjackets’ drives and limited them to just 11 first downs.
The Rattlers, who had experienced problems with fumbles in the first six games of the season, had two fumbles against Clayton. One of those resulted in a 19-yard return touchdown for the Yellowjackets.
“Two is still too many especially when it leads to points for the other team,” Ferguson said. “We have to play smart and not be our own worst enemy.”
In other area action:
• Melrose beat Logan, 50-0, on Friday.
The loss dropped the Longhorns to 3-4 for the eight-man season, 1-1 in District 4 play.
Melrose is 7-1 and 3-0.
• Tucumcari travels to Santa Rosa at 7 p.m. Friday for another District 3-3A encounter.
The Lions beat Raton, 42-21, on Friday night.
“This (Tucumcari) team has been preparing to compete in one of the toughest districts in the state,” Ferguson said. “We are going to continue to fight for the town and fans who have not given up on us.”
• Logan hosts Dora/Elida at 7 p.m. Friday in a District 4 game.
• San Jon travels to Floyd for a 3 p.m. start on Friday in a District 1 six-man game.
San Jon is 5-0 overall, 2-0 in district play. Floyd is 2-2 overall, 1-0 in district.