Strong special teams plays, defense and an untested Wildcat offense help the Tucumcari Rattlers overtake the New Mexico Military Institute for a 41-14 win Friday night at Rattler Stadium.
“The best stats are we’re 2-0 and no injuries,” Rattlers football coach Daniel Hutchins. “These guys are really working hard and it is showing on the field.”
The Rattlers limited the Colts to two touchdowns. They denied the Colts a third touchdown in the closing seconds of the game.
The Colts seemed unable to get their run game up and operational. They took to the air once they were inside the red zone. Twice they scored on bootleg passes from quarterback Eric Gallegos to wideout Garrett Green.
“Our linebacker kept getting caught up and that play bit us twice,” Hutchins said. “They took a time out before they ran their last play and I pulled the linebacker aside and told him not to get caught up in the play. He worked through it and made a great stop in the end zone.”
The Rattlers tallied scores on special teams, defense as well as offense.
Wideout George Montano started Friday’s game with a 86-yard kick off return for a touchdown. This was Montano’s second game in a row with an opening kick-off touchdown return.
“Our line did a great job of opening a hole and giving me a lane to run in,” Montano said.
The Rattlers defense recovered a fumble on the Colts’ following offensive series — one of three fumbles the Colts lost in the game.
The Rattlers capitalized on the first fumble with Alex Hutchins hooking up with wideout Jakus Martinez for a 67-yard touchdown pass.
Rattlers defensive back Travis Garcia scored on the following Colts’ possession by catching a deflected punt and running it in from 15 yards out.
“I just secured the ball and started running,” Garcia said. “I just wanted to score.”
The Colts defense began to slow the Rattlers downfield march and forced two punts.
Coach Hutchins decided to go with an untested Wildcat offense in the last minute of the half. He placed Montano in the shotgun and Alex Hutchins went in as a wideout.
“At first I freaked out that I was tagged to run the plays,” Montano said.
Montano’s nerves settled quickly as he ran three quick plays advancing the ball for a first down to the Colts 22-yard line.
Montano scored on the next play.
As the second half got underway, Montano wasted no time and connected with Martinez for a 80-yard touchdown pass.
Montano had some help as the offensive line began to pick up the Colts’ blitz, which had caused the punting situations in the first half.
“Their blitz were a little tricky,” Tucumcari fullback A.J. McElroy said. “They ran some blitz that we had never seen before. We knew we need to pick up the blitz and protect our quarterback.”
The Rattlers final score was early in the final quarter when Alex Hutchins was back under center and connected with Dalton Wood for a 40-yard touchdown pass.
The Rattlers next game is at 7 p.m. Friday at West Las Vegas.