Portales may have been able to move the chains, but Lovington plain ol' wore the chain gang out Friday.
In a rematch of last year’s Class 3A state championship game, the visiting Wildcats scorched Portales to the tune of a 64-14 score at Greyhound Stadium.
Lovington (7-2, 2-0 in 4-3A) scored on every possession to take command of the district race with one week left in the regular season.
“To us, we are now in the playoffs,” said Portales coach Andy Correll after the disappointing loss and the necessity to win.
“This is the playoffs for us. If we lose, chances are we may not make it,” said Correll, whose team will finish at Albuquerque Academy next weekend. “That’s the way we’ve got to look at this.”
The Wildcats had good field position to start each of their first two possessions and wasted little time in putting up points. In fact, Lovington’s first drive lasted all of three plays, culminating with a 27-yard run from quarterback Jacob Jameson.
Portales (3-6, 1-1) gave the ball right back to Lovington when Jeffery Collins’ pass was intercepted by Korbin Gilbreath. Four plays later, a quick 59-yard march ended when Robert Hargrove raced in from the 12 for a 14-0 advantage.
The Rams did counter at that point with a controlled 80-yard march that took 16 plays and included seven first downs. Portales senior Jesus Davalos, who finished with 123 rushing yards, pounded in from the one to make the score 14-7.
The response? Lovington sliced through the Rams’ defense in short order, driving 52 yards in 38 seconds. Edgar Medina scored from the five 5 the visitors held a 21-7 lead. Although the Wildcats’ offensive success was predicated on the ability of quarterbacks Jameson and Kyler Gilbreath finding open receivers, each of Lovington’s first three touchdowns were achieved on the ground.
“Every time we play Portales, it’s a rivalry game and the kids want to do their best. They did tonight,” Lovington coach Jaime Quinones said.
Davalos, Portales’ chief offensive weapon, was held out in the second half with a thigh bruise. But the home team had already fallen behind 41-7 as Lovington’s speed was largely able to contain the breakaway threat of Davalos — whose longest run was 18 yards on the last play of the first half.
“We have a lot of athletes, kind of the way Portales had a lot of athletes last year,” Quinones said. “He (Davalos) is a good running back and we wanted to keep him contained. That was our whole game plan. If we stopped him, we could contain their offense.”
“Our execution was not where it needed to be. It’s just stuff we’ve got to get fixed before next week, because we’ve got another good opponent in Academy,” Correll said.