Pounded in Pagosa, Bobcats dip to 1-3 overall

Swarming Montezuma-Cortez receiver Vincent Conklin (6), Ignacio’s Dustin Sanchez (24), Natoni Cundiff (72) and Marcus Chapman (10) converge for a tackle during the Bobcats’ Homecoming Week game, Friday, Sept. 15 at IHS Field. The run/pass-balanced 2A Panthers prevailed 38-14, though 1A IHS scored the contest’s first and last touchdowns.
Ignacio’s Mike Archuleta (23) finds running room after intercepting a Montezuma-Cortez pass – setting up the Bobcats’ first touchdown of their Homecoming Week contest, Friday, Sept. 15 at IHS Field. Unfortunately the 2A Panthers would have the last laugh, winning 38-14.
Ignacio’s Lawrence Valdez (1) returns a kick for good yardage on the road at Pagosa Springs, Friday, Sept. 22. Forward progress of any sort, however, was hard to achieve; the 2A Pirates held the 1A Bobcats to fewer than 100 yards of offense in winning 49-0.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

You wouldn’t know it from looking at the Golden Peaks Stadium scoreboard, but visiting Ignacio actually came out ahead last Friday night in one of football’s oft-indicative statistical categories: Takeaway margin.

Whereas Pagosa Springs’ Keaton Laverty managed to snare junior Lawrence Valdez’s fake-punt pass attempt inside the third quarter’s last minute, setting up what would be the non-conference game’s final score, IHS freshman Joseph Garcia stopped the Pirates’ last first-half drive with a fumble recovery, and sophomore Clay Campbell smothered another late in the fourth frame – likely preventing PSHS from ending their first home game this fall with a snap to quarterback Cade Cowan in ‘victory formation.’

foreboding lightning filled the skies and the 1A Bobcats were immediately at a disadvantage against the Pirates, who were eager to improve their standing this season in the Bayfield-dominated 2A Intermountain.

Against their shorthanded foe, Pagosa Springs unfortunately mimicked the Wolverines’ modi operandi, scoring five touchdowns of 25-plus yards offensively, and defensively forcing six Ignacio punts and a turnover-on-downs (by snuffing out a fake-punt Valdez run with 10:11 left before halftime) in a thorough 49-0 rout.

The ’Cats also had possessions cut short by intermission and the final horn, but did show an ability to gain yards, two to four at a time, directly behind senior center Natoni Cundiff via fullback dives with junior Dustin Sanchez (unofficially 9-21 rushing) or QB sneaks with senior Marcus Chapman.

Trailing 14-0 after Cowan trucked in a 27-yard touchdown and Keaton Anderson boomed the second of seven successful point-after kicks through the uprights –barely two minutes of real time before frequent flashes overhead necessitated a 30-minute weather delay –Ignacio picked up eight yards on three Sanchez totes up the gut, but Valdez was summoned to punt on fourth down.

Later in the first half, after PSHS’ lead doubled via 11-yard and 24-yard scores by senior Ty Kimsey, the Bobcats (1-3, 0-0 Southern Peaks) embarked on what would be their most consistent, forward-moving march. Five carries between Sanchez, Chapman and Valdez netted 11 yards out to the IHS 31, and Chapman then zinged a pass to right-hand slot receiver Mike Archuleta for 24 yards into Pirate property.

Sanchez then plowed ahead for two more yards, but after the second of two subsequent Chapman incompletions, Valdez was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. And with the ball moved back to the Bobcat 42, Chapman punted out of a non-punt look –netting 36 yards after the kick was downed at the Pagosa 28.

Garcia then recovered junior Connor Aragon’s fumble on the fifth play of Springs’ resulting series, setting IHS up at their own 36 with 2:51 remaining before halftime, but after Chapman hit Archuleta for 17 yards and Ian Weinreich for six, Valdez took an 11-yard sack attempting a halfback-option pass, and Chapman was then sacked for another eight yards.

A personal-foul infraction against the Pirates (2-2, 0-0 Intermountain) on the play re-advanced the ball back to midfield, but Ignacio couldn’t get a desperation snap off before the 15-minute respite.

Having already gained 12 yards on the third quarter’s fourth play, Kimsey (unoff. 3-97 rushing) blasted out of an apparent pile-up at the 50 and flew along the near sideline for a momentum-assuring 62-yard TD. Anderson nailed the PAT, and with 10:30 left Pagosa Springs’ lead stood 35-0. And after a Valdez punt, PSHS drove 56 yards in four plays and 2:08, with Cowan (8-143 rushing; 1-for-4 passing, 32 yards, TD) sprinting the last 32 yards.

Anderson was again accurate, and the running-clock mercy rule took effect.

Following Laverty’s pick, Aragon rumbled 34 yards on first down, and with 0:00 remaining in the third, Anderson’s right foot forced through the Pirates’ 49th unanswered point.

Able to mount one last ball-control push beginning the fourth quarter, seven run plays netted just five yards out to the Bobcat 40, and Valdez then punted one last time. Campbell then fell upon a Pagosa fumble at the Pirate 45 with 4:22 left, but the game’s last actual play saw Chapman (3-of-12 passing, 47 yards) take a hard hit from PSHS defensive end Mitch Lewis, forcing a final misfire.

Up next, Ignacio will begin conference play hosting Monte Vista (2-2, 0-0) on Friday, Sept. 29, at 7:00 p.m. The ’Cats will then travel to Dolores on Oct. 6 (7 p.m.), and to La Jara on Oct. 13 (7 p.m.) to face Centauri.

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