District contender Dexter scored 33 unanswered points in the second half to turn a somewhat competitive game into a 54-6 rout of visiting Tucumcari on Friday.
The Rattlers trailed just 21-6 at halftime, thanks to a 60-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nicholas Romero to wide receiver Luis Archuleta in the second quarter.
It was Tucumcari’s first touchdown since mid-September.
Tucumcari coach Donnie Garcia said he had adjusted his offense to give more protection for Romero, who completed two long passes late in the game during a loss to Hope Christian the previous week.
“Nick is gradually becoming a little more comfortable with the position,” Garcia said. “We changed the offense a little bit; we went back to the wing-T so we could provide him a little more blocking.
“We know Nick can sling the ball; we’ve just got to make sure the guys on the other end catch it.”
Tucumcari (0-9) was hampered by three blocked punts, plus penalties that snuffed out potential scoring drives.
On the punt attempts, Garcia said a blocker in the backfield misunderstood his assignment, allowing a rusher to shoot up the middle.
“Those three blocked punts really cost us,” he said. “We restructured things after that, but it took us a while to figure out what was going on.”
Garcia said the Rattlers were moving the ball well during their second possession and were close to the red zone when a penalty ended it.
“We did the same thing the last couple of games — shot ourselves in the foot,” Garcia said.
Garcia said the game’s first two quarters was the best his team had played in weeks.
“The kids were blocking, and on defense, the kids were flying to the ball,” he said of the first half. “It probably was the best half they played.”
The second half was another story.
“In the second half, the conditioning wasn’t the issue. It was the execution, and you can’t play just one or two quarters. We have to play the whole game.”
Dexter improved to 5-4 overall and 3-0 in the district. The Demons will host Ruidoso (8-1, 3-0) for the district title Friday.
A young and inexperienced team, Tucumcari has gone through many growing pains this season amid a rugged schedule. Eight of the Rattlers’ 10 opponents this year are ranked in the top 10 by MaxPreps.com.
“They’re learning, but it’s taking time,” Garcia said. “They’re gaining a little more confidence as they go, and they make progress each week. I believe they’ll be a team to deal with. There’s no quit in them; they just have to learn to finish the game. Once we do that, we’re going to be fine.”
Tucumcari’s season finale will be at home at 7 p.m. Friday against district foe New Mexico Military Institute.
The Colts (4-5) had a bye last week. In their most recent game on Oct. 14, NMMI lost 22-14 to district foe Dexter. The Colts have lost four in a row after a 4-1 start.