Bobcats struggle to stay afloat against Pirates

Ignacio’s Lawrence Toledo (2) straight-arms Monte Vista’s Nick Garcia (12) while attempting to gain kickoff-return yardage Friday night, Oct. 18, at IHS Field.
Playing right tackle on the offensive line, Ignacio’s Mekhi Miranda (53) blocks Monte Vista’s Dusty Duran (81) Friday night, Oct. 18, at IHS Field. Miranda would also make multiple stops defensively, and recovered one MVHS fumble.
Ignacio’s Colten Jackson (22) and Peyton Baker (66) leap to celebrate Jackson’s third-quarter touchdown catch versus Monte Vista Friday night, Oct. 18, at IHS Field. It would be the Bobcats’ only score in an 18-7 defeat, in which Baker was lost to injury.
Ignacio’s Gabe Tucson (11) steps into a throw towards the Bobcat sideline during action against Monte Vista Friday night, Oct. 18, at IHS Field. Tucson unofficially threw for 117 yards with one TD against three INT.
Ignacio’s Stephan Gomez (21) stops Monte Vista’s Colton Mellott (11) in his tracks during action Friday night, Oct. 18, at IHS Field. Gomez was one of four Bobcat seniors playing in their final home game.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

Monte Vista crashes Homecoming bash, wins 18-7

Able to more or less shake off the effects of four first-half turnovers, but unable to convert any of three takeaways into points, the Ignacio Bobcats none-the-less put forth one of the program’s best efforts in years, if not decades, against Monte Vista in an 18-7 loss Friday, Oct. 18.

“A defensive, turnover-type night,” observed sophomore Tyler Barnes, whose recovery of a Colton Mellott fumble at the MV 48-yard line set up IHS’ last-gasp, Homecoming Week possession.  “But we never got anything out of it; we always got one drive, maybe one push, and…really beat ourselves on penalties and stuff.”

And the aforementioned desperation drive ultimately proved a case study in the implosion.

Trailing in the 1A Southern Peaks Conference clash by 11 points after a 1-yard Mellott touchdown plunge with 7:57 remaining concluded a 72-yard march, but forced to go three-and-out in their first attempt to answer and thus summon Alvaro Ros Ortiz to punt a fourth time, Barnes’ recovery gave the ’Cats their second-best field position of the game with 5:19 still left.

Sophomore quarterback Gabe Tucson promptly hit junior Dylan Labarthe for an eight-yard gain to the 40, and junior workhorse Joe Garcia then bulled his way for three yards to the 37.  Awarded a fresh set of downs, Ignacio then suddenly lost all forward gears on the drive and all but ended the action traveling in reverse.

A false-start infraction backed IHS (2-5, 1-1 SPC) back to the 42, and the subsequent snap sailed over Tucson’s head, forcing him to fall on the ball for a 12-yard loss back to the Ignacio 46.  Monte Vista senior Jason Duran then barged through the offensive line on the next play to sack Tucson for a six-yard loss, and the Pirates (2-5, 2-1) could have then predicted to whom the ball would next go.

Watching well receiver Colten Jackson – playing his final game upon IHS Field along with fellow seniors Ian Weinreich, Stephan Gomez and Clay Campbell – MVHS forced a long Tucson incompletion as the Bobcats urgently sought to regain a large chunk of real estate.  Another false-start penalty pulled Ignacio back to their own 35, presenting the home team a fourth-and-38 conundrum.

Knowing IHS’ only hope was to again go aerial, Pirate junior Andres Maestas batted away Tucson’s final downfield throw with just 2:36 showing on the scoreboard clock.

Ignacio’s defensive unit, which achieved a major goal in stopping MVHS senior QB Kaidon Wenta – injured on a sandwich-style tackle midway through the second quarter, with a finishing hit by IHS junior Lawrence Toledo knocking Wenta’s helmet off – managed to force a turnover-on-downs at the Bobcat 36, but with only 19 seconds remaining a simple give to Garcia (who unofficially totaled just nine yards on 12 carries), gaining five yards, was about all which could be done.

“Earlier during the week, Coach (Manny Wasinger) had a talk with us about people stepping up and being leaders,” said Pirate senior Levi Trujillo, who shouldered most of his team’s rushing load after Wenta’s removal.  “So I knew that some, all of us, really – were sad about (Wenta) going down, but we all knew we had to…just get it together, finish the game.”

“We went out…like ‘We’ve got nothing to worry about now!  Let’s just hit ’em twice as hard,’” said Barnes, recalling the Bobcats’ optimism that with Wenta sidelined, there was a real chance to not only stun Monte Vista for the first time since before any current ’Cat was born, but improve to 2-0 in conference prior to visiting woeful Dolores – and potentially enter a Nov. 1 regular-season finale at Centauri standing 3-0 with an outside shot at qualifying for the State Playoffs.

“Overall, defensively I feel like we did pretty good,” Barnes stated, alluding to the fact that Toledo and unsung sophomore Mekhi Miranda also recovered fumbles during the game, as the Bobcats looked to pressure Mellott (unoff. 2-of-5, 66 yards passing; 8-28 rushing), Trujillo (unoff. 21-101 rushing) and other Pirates into making mistakes.

Ignacio mistakes, unfortunately, allowed Monte Vista to initially take the upper hand in the contest; Garcia was dropped for an 11-yard loss back to the IHS 11 on the game’s first play, and after a Toledo option pass went incomplete, Garcia lost his grip of a give from Tucson and MVHS recovered at the 10 with 11:01 left in the first quarter.

22 ticks and two Wenta carries later, the Pirates had a 6-0 advantage, but Campbell leapt and blocked Jarren Chavez’s point-after kick – leaving a margin which somehow endured into intermission.  For despite the fact the ’Cats couldn’t capitalize on Pirate turnovers, neither could the guests profit from Ignacio turnovers.

Monte Vista’s Tyrese Otero intercepted a Tucson end-zone bid to Jackson (2-77 receiving) with 0:56 left in the first quarter, halting what would have been a 76-yard Bobcat drive, highlighted by a 54-yard Tucson-to-Jackson bomb down to the MV 19.  Pirate Evan Hurtado would pick Tucson (unoff. 6-of-18, 117 yards passing) off at the IHS 35 with 8:15 left before halftime, and with 3:33 still to go, Maestas logged a third interception at the Bobcat 44.

Following that particular snag, Monte Vista embarked on a promising push, but stalled out at the 16 and Chavez’s attempted 34-yard field goal – with 34 seconds remaining – barely elevated above the line of scrimmage and fell well short.

Ignacio would finally take the lead with 7:55 left in the third quarter, when Jackson went vertical to snare a 23-yard TD pass from Tucson over Chavez, polishing off a six-play, 46-yard drive.  Ros Ortiz’s PAT put the ’Cats ahead 7-6, but MVHS swiftly responded with a five-play, 71-yard counterstrike capped by a 1-yard Trujillo tote with 5:51 remaining.

Jackson, however, snuffed out a sneaky Chavez end-around carry on the two-point conversion attempt.  And after Mellott’s fourth-quarter score, Barnes and Miranda combined to thwart a Mellott conversion keeper – yet another couple defensive highlights boding well for IHS’ Oct. 25 trip to DHS (0-7, 0-2).

The winless Bears lost 43-8 at home to Centauri (6-1, 3-0) the afternoon following Monte Vista’s escape from Ignacio.

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