For the first time since Joey Fernandez’s first season as head coach of the St. Michael’s football program, the Horsemen season ended in the opening round.
Raton beat St. Michael’s for the second straight week, using a late touchdown pass and a 2-point conversion pass by quarterback Dylan Quartieri to down the Horsemen 22-21 in the opening round of the Class 3A playoffs Saturday at Tiger Stadium.
St. Michael’s, the ninth seed in the bracket, finished the season with a 4-6 mark — the first losing season under Fernandez.
The No. 8 Tigers never led until Quartieri found his brother Matthew Quartieri for the conversion after Quartieri connected with Jesus Alvarado for a 74-yard touchdown pass with 2:29 left in the game. The Horsemen drove deep into Raton territory before Tigers defensive back Isaiah Samora intercepted a Lucas Coriz pass with less than a minute left to preserve the win.
Raton (6-5) will face top seed Socorro next week in a 3A quarterfinal.
It was a far different story compared to last week’s 34-13 score at Christian Brothers Athletic Complex, as the Horsemen appeared to be in control of the game until the fourth quarter.
Coriz had a 43-yard touchdown pass to Kenis Romero in the first quarter, then the Horsemen made it 14-0 late in the first half on Derek Roybal’s 1-yard touchdown run with 2:03 left in the second quarter followed by Lucas Montoya’s 2-point run.
Raton responded when Alvarado returned the kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown to cut the margin to 14-7 heading into the half.
On the opening drive of the third quarter, the Tigers held on to the ball for more than 7 minutes before Cayden Walton scored on a 28-yard touchdown run to tie the score at 14-all.
Undeterred, the Horsemen went 80 yards in 13 plays before Roybal scored from 2 yards out for a 21-14 lead with 11:16 left in the game.
St. Michael’s defensive back Rico Gurule came up with an interception midway through the fourth quarter, but the Horsemen punted the ball back to Raton with less then 4 minute left to set up Quartieri’s heroics.
No. 6 West Las Vegas 48, No. 11 Hot Springs 12
The Dons advanced to a quarterfinal matchup with crosstown rival Las Vegas Robertson, using a 20-point outburst in the second quarter to build a 27-6 halftime lead at the Frank Herrera Athletic Complex.
West Las Vegas improved to 7-4.
No. 10 Silver 26, No. 7 Taos 23
The Tigers’ run to a second straight state title was ended abruptly by the visiting Colts, who built a 17-3 lead at Anaya Field and held off a furious rally to advance to a 4A quarterfinal at No. 2 Portales next week.
Taos scored two touchdowns in the second half to erase the deficit on a 1-yard touchdown run by Noah Armijo and his 330-yard touchdown pass to Angel Limas with 9:51 left in the game.
Silver running back Michael Aguirre scored a rushing touchdown with 5:48 to go, then a 22-yard field goal with a minute left gave the Colts the cushion they needed.
Armijo’s 40-yard touchdown pass with 18 seconds left trimmed the margin to 26-23.
Taos finished the season 6-5.