Slowed slightly by juking back to the inside, freshman Stocker Robbins lost a shot to potentially end the Sept. 14 action as senior Adam Herrera had started it: a punt-return touchdown of 40-45 yards.
But with minutes and seconds ticking off IHS Field’s scoreboard clock, Ignacio’s second- and third-string offensive personnel hustled out for first down at the visitors’ 12-yard line, valuing any chance to add to an unexpected assault on the record book.
And not just the one labeled CHSAA, but the one marked NFHS – as in National Federation of State High School Associations. The big one.
“Our coach gave us a goal: to not let the other team score any points whatsoever,” Herrera said after the 1A-level Bobcats’ battering of the 3A Shiprock, N.M., JV. “And for what we did today – and how good we did today – we accomplished that!”
“Feels good,” added junior starting quarterback Adison Jones. “Wanting to get our first home win … this was a good way to do it.”
Runs by Charles Rohde and Ethan Appenzeller pushed the ball down to the Chieftain 6, and after backup quarterback Austin McCaw was sacked back to the 13, Rohde took a fourth-down toss left and won a thrilling sprint to the near pylon with 11:44 left of mercy-rule timing in the fourth quarter for what would ultimately finish an amazing 75-0 explosion.
“We just were good all the way around,” said sophomore tight end Nick Herrera, “with [our] defense keeping them down to zero like we wanted to.”
All the way down to freshman Dalton LaBarth’s interception of SHS QB Steve Lara with 3:01 remaining, halting Shiprock’s lone legitimate – that is, not by penalty – intrusion into Ignacio territory at the Bobcat 30. And allowing head coach Lupe Huerta to hurry freshman Zachary Weinreich out into the huddle and under center, clock still winding down, and cheers still erupting from the regulars and the fans.
Robbins gained three yards on first down, and Weinreich – with Jones and McCaw both observing – then hit senior Antonio Torres for 15 yards out to the 48. His next pass fell incomplete, and the final seconds expired before one last downfield attempt could go airborne.
“Felt good to relax … [and] let our second team come in and take care of business,” said Jones, who followed up his victorious 334-yard performance in Pueblo against 2A Dolores Huerta Prep with just 73 yards versus Shiprock on 5-of-10 accuracy – but three TDs (of 10, 25 and 19 yards) to Nick Herrera.
It all happened in a first half that saw the Cats set an insanely swift triple-digit pace, with a virtually extinct double-century possible, as the non-league tilt began resembling the NCAA’s 1916 Georgia Tech-Cumberland [Lebanon, Tenn.] College 222-0 affair.
Lara was unable to move the Chieftains after Ignacio’s Wyatt Hayes booted the opening kickoff into the enemy’s end zone for a touchback, and Johnathon Peters came in to punt on fourth-and-19. But Adam Herrera, with space to accelerate, breezed back through to score. Six-zip, 9:53 left, first quarter.
Shiprock’s lone highlight, in fact, may have been cornerback Arjay Miller’s end-zone interception of Jones’ two-point pass – in the same location as Rohde’s penultimate score. Hayes then kicked again, and the Chieftains set up shop at their 23. A three-and-out resulted, and Peters shanked a punt towards the IHS bench and out of bounds at the 40 with 8:21 left.
Bobcat Blaine Mickey gained 12 yards on first down, and Adam Herrera then motored 28 yards to score on second. Ignacio’s two-point run try failed, but with 7:54 still left there was something rapidly boiling – and not just sun-baked remnants of the rainstorm which delayed the 1 p.m. start by half an hour.
Torres then recovered a Lara fumble on third down of Shiprock’s next series, and from the SHS 1 Miguel Perez plowed in, with Adam Herrera running in the two-pointer for a 20-0 lead and 6:07 left.
“We have a lot of great running backs, a good running backs coach,” said Herrera (3-73 rushing), “and a lot of good plays for our run game. Our line’s doing a good job of opening holes!”
Chieftain RB Deiano Jones then immediately lost his grip after the guests tried mounting a fourth drive from their own 17, and Bobcat lineman Christian Knoll pounced on it at the 15. Adison Jones then threw incomplete in Clayton Jefferson’s direction, but then handed to Herrera for the score (5:37 left) and also for the conversion carry and a 28-0 advantage.
Jefferson then broke through to block Peters’ next punt, and IHS recovered at Shiprock’s 10, with Jones then connecting with Nick Herrera for six more points (Adam Herrera promptly rushed in for two more).
Making a long story shorter, the 36-0 lead grew to 50-0 (good for seventh all-time in NFHS records) before the horn sounded – via a 25-yard Perez run with 1:37 left and a 30-yarder by Adam Herrera with 0:12 still left. McCaw, who’d recovered a fumble to set up that score, drilled the upright with his first PAT try, but the Bobcats’ damage done was deadly efficient.
Ten offensive snaps, six going for touchdowns. Three fumble recoveries and the blocked punt defensively, and a yardage-against total of nearly minus-50. All inside of 12 torturous minutes.
Peters punted again not even a full minute into the second quarter, and though Ignacio’s ensuing series ended on downs at the Chieftain 39, Rohde got the Bobcats (2-1, 0-0 Southern Peaks) the ball back at the 25 after Peters’ next boot bounced off an upback’s backside.
Next IHS play? Next IHS touchdown: Jones aerially to Herrera (3-54 receiving), with McCaw finally nailing the extra point.
Appenzeller deflected a Lara pass to all but kill off Shiprock’s next surge, and on the sixth play after Peters’ punt (netting just nine yards out to midfield) Jones found his TE once more. Weinreich, serving as holder for McCaw, attempted to run the two-point try but failed.
No matter; with 1:43 before halftime, Ignacio would hit paydirt again just 21 seconds later.
Torres and Appenzeller practically shared an interception after barging through to snuff out a reverse halfback-option pass – and Shiprock’s 11th possession – and Perez (6-64) then took Jones’s first-down give 23 yards to match Adam Herrera’s three scoring hauls.
“We knew our passing would be there, but we just wanted to get our run game going,” Jones said. “That’s what we preached this whole week, and that’s what we came out and did: run the ball.”
McCaw’s PAT was no good, but the Cats went to intermission on yet another high note: a penalty put SHS at the Ignacio 47 –across the 50 for the first time – but after a Lara incompletion, Rohde (6-20 rushing) sacked the fellow just before the horn and six yards back at the Shiprock 47.
Ignacio’s 69-point, two-quarter rampage would eventually check in at No. 11 in NFHS annals, but at the time it was plenty to please the boss, whose first-stringers’ helmets came off upon returning to their sideline for the second half – played within CHSAA’s mercy-rule mandates.
“It just gives us a little bit of a pump to get ready and go play our next game,” said Nick Herrera, looking ahead to this weekend’s road trip to face the 3A Montezuma-Cortez JV (Sept. 21, 11 a.m.].
On the other hand Adam Herrera, a cousin, was thinking deflation as a means of celebration.
“I got taken out. Other than that, it was fun!” he said, having contributed 28 points to the cause. “I just want to go home and relax now … [and] wait for my birthday to come.”
For No. 32’s 18th was barely 36 hours away.
“I’m excited to play with these guys. It’s going to be a long year for all of us. Everyone did very good today,” he said. “I’m proud of everyone… . Improved a lot more from last weekend [a 45-12 rout of DHPH], and I’m pretty sure it’s just going to keep improving.”
Shiprock’s varsity – Ignacio’s originally-scheduled opponent – apparently didn’t fare much better; electing to travel west to 3A Kayenta (Ariz.) Monument Valley instead, they took a 71-34 stomping from the Mustangs.