Halftime pause helps Ellicott avoid IHS’ claws

Beating Ellicott’s Kyle Ager (72) to the corner, Ignacio freshman Lawrence Toledo carries in a go-ahead two-point conversion following IHS’ first touchdown in their August 26 season-opener.
Ignacio head coach Alfonso ‘Ponch’ Garcia, left, goes over the plan with new quarterback Trace Lovelace during the Bobcats’ season-opener, Saturday, Aug. 26 at home versus non-conference Ellicott.
With Ellicott’s Juan Casillas (33) hoping to prevent him from doing so, Ignacio’s Cesar Pedregon attempts to scoop up a fumble on the run during the Bobcats’ August 26 season-opener.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

Still poised enough after a day frequently spent scrambling to disregard Ellicott junior Zack Crowther’s four-yard sack on first down and end the game with a 12-yard gain on second, Trace Lovelace showed about as much guts as could be hoped for in his quarterbacking debut.

He even averaged 31.6 net yards on five punts, with a long of 43 from deep in his own team’s end.

On the receiving end of most of Lovelace’s best throws – including a 49-yard touchdown with 1:55 left in the first quarter, setting up freshman Lawrence Toledo’s go-ahead two-point conversion run – fellow senior Marcus Chapman played about as well, both offensively and defensively, as could be expected.

Toledo and sophomore Colten Jackson each intercepted EHS star Chiante Stewart once during the first half – further helping Ignacio take and hold an unexpected 8-7 halftime advantage Saturday, August 26, against a non-conference crew which had pummeled the Bobcats 52-15 last year.

Heading into intermission it seemed IHS stood a strong chance of starting 2017 off in ideal fashion.

The downtime, however, proved the team’s downfall.

It took just four plays and 56 seconds for the visiting Thunderhawks to go 93 yards and regain the advantage – via sophomore Thomas Huston’s 67-yard scoring burst, followed by junior Dorian Quillen’s second point-after kick in as many tries.

And before the third quarter reached its midway mark, Ellicott forced two of Lovelace’s punts and needed only three total snaps to put up another 14 points en route to a season-opening 34-16 win at sunny IHS Field.

Stewart, who’d gotten the scoring started with a 26-yard keeper and 9:24 left in the first quarter, ripped off a 61-yard scamper with 8:33 left in the third, and Huston followed with a 45-yard sprint only ten ticks after EHS (1-0, 0-0 1A Santa Fe) gained possession in Bobcat territory with 6:56 remaining.

Quillen was true on both PATs, and the 28-8 advantage would be too much to overcome, particularly with Ignacio junior, Mike Archuleta then unluckily losing a fumble on first down, after a decent gain from the IHS 35.

“We just had to get yelled at, our heads weren’t in it,” admitted Huston. “And as soon as the coaches talked to us … that brought us back and we came out screaming. Nothing was going to stop us after that.”

Junior Dustin Sanchez lost a fumble with 9:13 left in the game, ending what had been Ignacio’s best all-run series – a seven-play push from the Bobcat 45 which reached the Ellicott 18 – tried in the contest. But after taking over at their own 15 and threatening to work the clock down via a grinder of their own, IHS’ defense forced a turnover-on-downs at their own 33 with 6:09 left.

Lovelace seemed most rejuvenated of all, following blockers and dodging several ’Hawks on first down for a 48-yard gain to EHS’ 19. Even with two penalties and a ten-yard sack by Ellicott senior Kyle Ager working against him, the senior continued pressing the issue.

The persistence paid off, delighting the home fans. Ager’s sack backed IHS up to the 37, but Lovelace zipped a 19-yarder to Chapman. An encroachment penalty against Ellicott moved the ball ahead to the 13, and Lovelace ended the drive with a TD toss to Jackson with 2:34 left. Fittingly, Lovelace lugged in the two-pointer and the ’Cats trailed 28-16.

Sophomore Ocean Hunter’s onside kick attempt, however, was smothered by EHS’ up-backs at the Ellicott 43. Three runs reached the Ignacio 44, and after a completion to senior Payton Whitlock lost a yard, Stewart lobbed a throw along the visitors’ sideline to wide-open senior Levi Lambrite for a 45-yard TD with only 57.7 seconds left.

IHS managed to block Quillen’s PAT try, but the 18-point margin stood as the final on the scoreboard.

Unofficially, Chapman snared four Lovelace throws for 99 yards as the new signal-caller – replacing current Fort Lewis College Skyhawk freshman Zach Weinreich – unofficially finished 8-of-13 for 128 yards with two TD and one INT, while recording 12-23 rushing figures despite taking multiple losses.

Toledo unofficially totaled 20 yards on ten carries and Sanchez 17 on seven.

Stewart unofficially rushed for 164 yards on 19 carries, and also was 7-of-17 passing for 81 yards and a TD against the two picks. Huston’s crippling third-quarter effort helped him total 167 yards on only nine carries, and Quillen gained 26 on six. Lambrite finished with 76 yards on three receptions.

Up next for Ignacio (0-1, 0-0 1A Southern Peaks) will be a Sept. 1 visit from 3A Crownpoint, N.M., with kickoff at 7 p.m.

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