But the Ruidoso Warriors rose to the occasion Friday with a 45-20 win over Lordsburg to start the season.
“It was a good road trip, although we still have a lot to work on – things like coming off the ball hard on every play,” said Ruidoso coach Kief Johnson. “There were some busts and we got lucky on some things.”
Ruidoso (1-0) never trailed in the game, but the Mavericks had made things interesting by the break with two touchdowns and trailed by nine points.
“It was still a close game going into the locker room,” Johnson said. “But I was proud about the way they were able to put the hammer down in the second half.”
The Warriors put on an offensive show in the third quarter with 15 points, although one of their touchdowns – possibly the most important one – came via the defense.
With Lordsburg driving toward a likely score, defensive back Connor McGuire picked off a pass and returned it 80 yards for the touchdown.
“That was huge for us,” Johnson said. “They were driving for a score and it was a big momentum boost for us.”
Quarterback Bryce Pompos had the best night offensively, rushing for 108 yards and two touchdowns, while throwing for 156 yards and a scoring strike to Ismail LaPaz.
Devon Carr also scored two rushing touchdowns, with 108 yards total, while Parker Johnson caught 10 passes for 94 yards.
“We took what they gave us offensively,” Johnson said. “Having multiple guys with lots of yardage is good, and the offensive line did a great job.”
Ruidoso needs the momentum from this win going into this week’s game against Socorro, a team that’s had the R-Warriors’ number over the years.
“It will be a big test for us,” Johnson said. “We can’t turn the ball over against them – we had four turnovers against Lordsburg. We also have to shut down their run game.
“Playing mistake-free football will give us a chance to beat them.”