Moriarty High School’s head football coach Joe Anaya said his team’s Aug. 31 victory over the visiting Class 5A Santa Fe Demons wasn’t pretty, but he’ll take it.

“Well, we won,” Anaya said. “It always makes it a little bit better when we win.”

Moriarty senior running back Xavier Romero—who had two touchdowns rushing—was more excited about the 20-12 victory.

“It feels phenomenal to get our first win,” Romero said, adding, “But we gotta get better.”

Anaya said he was satisfied with the Pintos’ performance but acknowledged that the team “got away with some stuff” against the Demons—alluding to mistakes that could have been costly.

“The defense played very well,” Anaya said. “Overall, we did a lot of things right, but we’ve still got some things we’ve got to fix.”

Moriarty fumbled on its opening drive and the Demons (0-2) recovered.

The Pintos coughed up the ball two other times in the first half but recovered their own fumbles.

“Yeah, every time I turned around it seemed like the ball was on the floor,” Anaya said. “We’ve got to hold onto the ball, that’s basic football.”

Moriarty also committed several penalties, including seven false starts.

The Pintos (1-1) got on the board midway through the second quarter when Pete Sandoval’s 3-yard plunge into the end zone capped a 66-yard drive.

Sandoval netted 42 yards rushing on 10 carries.

A few minutes later, after the Pintos stalled at their own 37, Moriarty’s short punt bounced into the hands of a Santa Fe defender who returned it 50 yards for a TD to trim the home team’s lead to 7-6 at halftime.

The Pintos used six plays on their first possession of the third quarter to get inside the Demons 20-yard line. But a false start penalty pushed them back 5 yards.

On the next play, Romero scampered 23 yards to the end zone for the first of his two TDs.

“I said [to the team], ‘We’ve gotta get this back, we gotta push through,’ because I was the one who committed the false start—I told them it was my bad,” Romero said. “And our team really responded.”

After recovering a Demons’ fumble at the Santa Fe 25-yard line, Romero’s 25-yard TD run put Moriarty ahead, 20-6.

“I think in the second half, we picked it up a whole lot, the energy was much better,” Romero said. He rushed for 172 yards on 17 carries.

Anaya noted that Romero had a great game running the ball.

“He showed good senior leadership,” Anaya said. “Sometimes you just need people to step up and make plays and that’s exactly what he did.”

Santa Fe scored its only offensive TD with just under 3 minutes remaining in the game.

The Demons then attempted an onside kick, but Moriarty’s Julian Encinias came up with the ball allowing the Pintos to run out the clock.

The Pintos next game is Sept. 8 against Hope Christian in Albuquerque.