Estancia High School’s football team drove into the end zone twice during its Aug. 24 season-opener, but came up short on its third attempt—and that was the difference in the Bears’ loss to the visiting Hatch Valley Bears.

With 2.5 seconds left on the clock and Estancia down to its final play, Cruz Moreno attempted a pass to Drayton Oberg. But the would-be game-winning pass was incomplete, and Hatch Valley went home with a 17-12 victory.

“We had a shot there, we had Oberg open, but he just couldn’t come up with it,” Estancia head coach Stewart Burnett said.

From the outset, the game meandered back-and-forth, with Hatch Valley (1-0) taking a brief 3-0 lead on a field goal late in the first quarter.

A minute later, Estancia (0-1) recaptured the lead when Moreno connected on a 47-yard touchdown strike to Oberg just before the quarter ended.

Oberg made a leaping catch just inside the 20-yard line, zigzagged past a Hatch defender, and scampered into the end zone to put the Bears ahead, 6-3.

Hatch Valley scored a touchdown midway through the second quarter to push ahead 10-6 at halftime.

Early in the third quarter, Josh Thomas’ touchdown run helped the hometown Bears regain the lead, 12-10.

But later in the quarter, Hatch Valley responded with a TD to seal the victory.

“Overall, I don’t feel like we played well,” Burnett said. “I was pleased with how we threw the ball, but we had no run game—we were a little soft on the offensive line and we’ve got to fix that.”

Estancia travels south to take on the Eunice Cardinals Aug. 31.