FORT SUMNER — The Battle of the Pecos was the billing for a pair of undefeated defending state champs squaring off Friday night in Fort Sumner. As well, it was a battle of the top-ranked teams from Class 1A and Class 2A meeting.
For the seventh straight year, it was 2A Santa Rosa that took home bragging rights with a 7-6 victory over the Foxes.
Santa Rosa (4-0) set up its only score with a reverse on a punt return as senior Ricardo Roybal rambled 30 yards to the Fort Sumner 21-yard line with two minutes left before intermission.
Four plays later, Roybal scored from a yard out. The conversion kick by Lions’ junior Chris Sanchez proved to be the winning margin.
Fort Sumner (3-1), which generated a single first down through much of the first two quarters, moved the ball more successfully than the visitors in the second half. The Foxes finished a 55-yard drive when quarterback Berry Stinnett — on a third-and-10 situation — found Christian Pettigrew with a 16-yard gain.
With 7:19 left in the game, Fort Sumner decided to go for the two-point conversion. But Santa Rosa senior linebacker Jeff Reeves led a host of Lions into the Foxes’ backfield and bottled up the attempted run by Stinnett.
“Obviously, Frank (Ortiz, Santa Rosa coach) scouted us very well right there because he knew where we were going,” Fort Sumner coach Matt Moyer said. “We wanted to win. We didn’t come here to lose or tie. Now, in hindsight, it’s my bad decision.”
It’s been since 2001 since Fort Sumner has won the rivalry game.
The Foxes put together one last drive into Santa Rosa territory in the fourth quarter, but a couple of bobbled handoff attempts helped put Fort Sumner into a fourth-and-5 with 1:18 left. At the Lions’ 25, the Foxes turned the ball over on downs after an incomplete pass.
Fort Sumner’s defense ended up limiting the potent Santa Rosa single-wing offense to 129 yards.
“We take a lot of time watching film, breaking down what they do and where they go,” Moyer said. “You have to be very disciplined, or they’re going to catch you off-guard. We’d been able to hold them before but not stay this close.”