BLACKWATER DRAW — A helmet to the shoulder on an early short touchdown run slowed Portales running back Jesus Davalos, but it hardly stopped him.
Davalos was limited to one second-half carry, but more than made his presence felt by turning two second-half screen passes into big plays as the Rams subdued Bloomfield 42-26 in a Class 3A playoff semifinal Saturday at Greyhound Stadium.
The Rams (9-3) then won a coin flip and will host District 4-3A rival Lovington (9-3) in the championship game, set for 2 p.m. Saturday. Lovington survived three overtimes to get past St. Michael’s 31-24 in the other semifinal clash.
Davalos got several excellent downfield blocks on a 76-yard pass play to set up Brandon McAfee’s 1-yard TD run late in the third quarter. He carried another screen pass from senior quarterback Michael Trujillo 69 yards for the clinching score early in the fourth quarter.
“We knew they’d come after us some (with blitzes),” Rams coach Andy Correll said. “We got pretty fortunate we caught them a couple of times, and it worked out pretty well.”
Davalos, who finished with 62 yards on 11 carries while catching five passes for 196 yards, admitted he wasn’t sure how much he’d be able to contribute after taking the early hit.
“At halftime, I told (backup) Zach Terry to get ready,” he said.
Davalos scored three TDs, including a 5-yard pass from Trujillo that staked the Rams to a 28-6 halftime lead, and acknowledged the help he got on the long gainers.
“It was great blocking from my teammates,” he said. “They didn’t give up on the play, and just that fact left me some great cutback lanes.”
Portales scored on its first four possessions, wobbled a bit in the second half, but had plenty of cushion to ride it out.
“We came out and played fast like we wanted to,” Correll said. “We knew that was going to be a key.”
Trujillo also ran for a score and completed 21-of-28 passes for 386 yards and three TDs, including a 60-yard bomb to senior wide receiver Shawn Carrasco.
“I knew they wouldn’t give up,” Trujillo said of the Bobcats. “They’ve got some big players, and I knew they wouldn’t lay down.
“It’s been a good year for us so far. We have one more game to make it complete.”
Bloomfield, which had an eight-game winning streak snapped, moved the ball effectively in the second half and threatened to make a game of at times, but the Bobcats were unable to get closer than two scores.
“They’re a good team,” said Bobcats coach Bruce Hatch, a former Eastern New Mexico University football player who celebrated his 32nd birthday on Saturday. “We could’ve played better, but Portales played great.”
Junior quarterback David Salcido ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns and completed 14-of-26 passes for 147 yards, but Bloomfield was hampered when 5-foot-3, 130-pound running back Alex Garcia went down with an ankle injury in the second quarter and did not return.
“We made it through the season healthy, and then that happens,” Hatch said. “But it’s part of the game.”
Portales lost at Lovington 17-14 during the regular season.
“I think we were too hyped up,” Correll recalled of that matchup. “We didn’t play a very good first half, but I think it was a good loss. We were ranked No. 1 at the time, and it allowed us to get refocused."