Seven days after scoring 54 points in a vigorous win over Class 3A Hatch Valley, the Estancia Bears got shut down in their Sept. 30 home matchup against the 2A Santa Rosa Lions.
The game went sideways for Estancia right out of the gate as Santa Rosa—a rival who always plays the Bears tough—came out strong, racked up a 21-0 lead in the first half and rolled to a 35-0 pasting.
“I felt this coming all week, we thought we could just show up and not have to do anything to manufacture a result and it showed,” Estancia head coach Stewart Burnett said after the loss, adding, “We ate the meal we prepared all week.”
Santa Rosa, the third-ranked 2A team in the state, used a hard-to-stop ground game to pile up 405 yards rushing. Three separate running backs surpassed 100 yards each, with two of them gaining over 150 yards each.
The Lions took the opening kickoff and marched down the field, using 11 plays to get into the end zone. Santa Rosa then recovered an onside kick and took only five plays to score its second touchdown.
Eight minutes into the game, Estancia was trailing 14-0 and the Bears’ offense hadn’t touched the ball yet.
Estancia struggled to find any rhythm offensively in the first half with only two possessions that both ended in punts.
Santa Rosa’s third drive consumed roughly 10 minutes in the second quarter and left the Bears looking up at a 21-0 deficit at halftime.
Estancia mounted its first decent drive of the game at the start of the third quarter and got inside the Santa Rosa 20-yard line. But on fourth-and-3, Bears quarterback Ja’Brae Boyer threw an incomplete pass to the end zone and the drive stalled.
After Estancia’s defense forced Santa Rosa to go three-and-out, the Lions botched the snap on their punt attempt, giving the Bears great starting field position at the 32-yard line.
But Estancia could only get to the Santa Rosa 24 before turning the ball over on downs.
It took Santa Rosa only four running plays to charge downfield and go up 28-0 near the end of the third quarter.
Estancia started its next drive at its own 13 and moved the chains with several runs by Boyer, two runs by Aiden Boyle and one by Josh Calhoon. The Bears also benefitted from two 15-yard penalties by Santa Rosa—a facemask and a personal foul.
But after the Bears got to the Santa Rosa 24, the Lions sacked Boyer on third down. Boyer then threw an incomplete pass on fourth down.
Santa Rosa scored its final TD with 4:29 left in the game.
“I think momentum played a big role in it—we had trouble getting things going and finishing drives,” Boyer said about the game. “We just gotta put this behind us and focus on winning a district championship.”
Boyer led Estancia in rushing, carrying the ball 14 times for 52 yards. Calhoon added 34 yards on nine carries.
Burnett said the Bears took a “gigantic step backwards” with the loss but reinforced that the focus is now on the three remaining regular season games against Estancia’s new district foes—Mescalero Apache, Tularosa and Capitan—with the emphasis on Tularosa.
“We’ll spend the next three weeks prepping for Tulo, then we’ll see,” Burnett said. “We have to recover and try to go win a district title, and hopefully these first seven weeks have served their purpose in turning us into a group that can go do that.”