BLACKWATER DRAW — The Portales Rams rolled up the West Las Vegas Dons early and broke a winless streak that has plagued them all season with a 44-6 win.
“It’s nice to finally have a win after all the work we’ve done,” said Portales junior running back Colin McAfee. “Our guys worked really hard all week.”
Portales’ offense was firing, mostly on the ground as McAfee helped nail down the win with rushing touchdowns of 3 and 25 yards late in the first half. He scored a third touchdown of 23 yards early in the third to put the Rams up 37-0.
The Rams’ running back had a career-high 145 yards rushing on 12 carries for an astounding 12-yard-per-carry average.
“Our offense blocked really good for both runs and passes,” McAfee said. “The 0-line did a really great job and they don’t get much credit usually.”
Part of that offensive line, junior Justin Santibanez, said it felt really good to get the team’s first win.
“It felt good, we just got on our blocks and opened up our running backs good holes to run in,” Santibanez said. “This motivates us now and gives us hope to go into the next game.”
The Rams (1-5) got their first score off a 27-yard ramble by senior quarterback J.J. Collins with 8:34 to play in the first. Collins hooked up with senior Lucas Banda early in the second quarter for a 14-yard touchdown strike that made the score 12-0 leading to McAfee’s scores.
After an interception by senior James Salgado with seconds to play in the half, Collins and crew decided they weren’t done yet. Collins hit junior David Rodriguez on the fly toward for an 11-yard touchdown pass.
Forced turnovers by the Rams’ defense and special teams contributed to the rout.
Besides Salgado’s pick, fumble recoveries by Morgen Hiner and Paul Romero kept the Dons (0-6) on their heels and led to one score. But it was a pick by senior Stephen Shields and a 45-yard return that took the wind out of the sails of Don senior quarterback Martin Blea and his surging offense in the fourth quarter.
Also on special teams play was the Rams’ only fourth quarter touchdown, an 80-yard kickoff return by junior Brandon Lovato.
West Las Vegas got its only score of the night with 6:15 left on a 19-yard pass from Blea to sophomore Johnathon Cordova.
Shields and the Rams’ secondary were in Blea’s way all evening.
“It felt good,” Shields said. “I had been waiting all game to get my chance. I dropped that one earlier, but I got that one.”
Coach Mark McAfee credited his team’s hard work in practice and finally having everyone relatively healthy as the reason for the win.
“They did everything just exactly like we worked on in practice,” Coach McAfee said. “They executed well in all three phases of the game, offense, defense and special teams.”
The coach says he’s hoping the win will create an internal change in the way his team approaches games.
“If they can take the feeling they have right now and if we can internalize that somehow they’ll know exactly what direction we want to go.”
“We just played our hearts out,” said junior Jonathan Esparsen as he left the field. “We told everybody that if we did that good things would happen.”