Estancia Bears fall to Hatch Valley Bears in season opener

Estancia Bear Josh Thomas leading the Bears pre-game charge. Photo by G. Demarest.

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.

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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.

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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.