Raton defeats Tucumcari
September 18, 2019
Five turnovers and other mental errors by the Rattlers paved the way to a 41-0 victory by Raton, spoiling Tucumcari's Homecoming game Friday at Rattler Stadium.
Tucumcari coach Wayne Ferguson lamented his team's mistakes and lost opportunities.
"I don't know how many fundamental mistakes we made tonight - dropping snaps, fumbling, throwing interceptions with people wide open for touchdowns," he said after the Rattlers fell to 1-3.
If there was any comfort Ferguson could take from the game, Raton's coach said his team was suffering from the same sort of lapses during lopsided losses to Socorro and Bloomfield a few weeks ago.
"We showed definite weaknesses, and the weaknesses were us," Tigers coach Tony Giacomo said. "We were beating ourselves, and this is what we've been harping on: Stay away from penalties, fumbles, mental mistakes, fumbles on quarterback-center exchanges. We made Socorro and Bloomfield look like state champs.
"If we can play like we played tonight and move forward, we can beat anybody."
Raton freshman running back Cayden Walton's speed and cutback moves led to more than 200 yards rushing and three touchdowns. In all, Raton (2-2) gained more than 400 yards of offense, compared to 173 for Tucumcari.
"I don't think they're as good as we made them look tonight," Ferguson said.
Giacomo said Walton is a rising star.
"He came on last year as an eighth-grader and moved up for us," he said. "He's our stud, and we're lucky to have him three more years."
Robbie Hartmann and TJ Lampkin each rushed for 42 yards for the Rattlers. Tucumcari quarterback Jesus Ramos went 5-for-13 passing for 54 yards.
Ferguson said his team's poor play Friday was reflected by a lack of players at practice during the week because of illnesses, injuries or absences.
"It's hard to prepare when the kids aren't being made to make it a part of their lives and they have things that are more important than this," he said. "If we don't have kids at practice, it's going to be hard to prepare, and it showed tonight."
Raton scored on its first possession with a 12-play, 80-yard drive. Tucumcari gave the Tigers a critical first down when a defender jumped offsides - the first of three such penalties drawn by the Raton quarterback's hard count before the snap - on a fourth-and-3 play. Given a fresh set of downs, Walton scored on a 22-yard run, giving Raton a 7-0 lead.
Tucumcari's first possession was a short run and two pass incompletions, forcing a punt. Raton took seven plays to score on a 26-yard TD run by Walton. The Tigers led 13-0.
The Rattlers failed to recover an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff. Four plays later, quarterback Jesse Kelley connected on a 9-yard TD pass to Matthew Quartieri for a 20-0 lead in the first quarter.
Raton scored again on Walton's 9-yard run midway through the second quarter. Kelley tallied a TD on a 6-yard scramble with 1:27 left before halftime to give Raton a 34-0 advantage.
The Rattlers had chances to score in the second half. A drive that moved to Raton's 10-yard line late in the third quarter snuffed out when the Tigers intercepted a pass near the goal line. A second possession inside Raton's 20 ended with another interception.
Raton took advantage of the second pick when Kelley connected with Quartieri for a 49-yard TD pass and a 41-0 lead.
Tucumcari travels to longtime rival Santa Rosa (0-5) for a game at 7 p.m. Friday. Estancia beat the Lions 44-23 on Friday.
"It's a winnable game, but we'll have to come to play," Ferguson said.