In a grueling battle reminiscent of a boxing match between a couple of determined heavy weights, the Estancia Bears and the visiting Capitan Tigers went toe-to-toe for much of their Oct. 4 matchup, exchanging blows, turnovers and a surplus of penalties.
“We’ve gotta be fast and fearless, fast and fearless!” Estancia head coach Stewart Burnett told his players as he paced the sidelines.
In the end, a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns and a season-high rushing performance by Andrew Lujan helped the Bears scratch and claw their way to a 28-12 victory.
“It was a knock-down, drag-out,” Burnett said, adding, “There was no going around them, the only way was to find a way to go through them.”
The Bears started with a big return on the opening kickoff by Marino Rivera-Noblitt that put them in Capitan territory.
Ja’ Brae Boyer’s 28-yard sweep around the right capped the opening four-play drive to give the Bears a quick 8-0 advantage.
“It felt really good,” Boyer said about his second touchdown of the season and his first on the Bears’ home turf, adding, “If it wasn’t for the [offensive] line I would’ve never got it, I owe it all to the line.”
Capitan responded with a touchdown midway through the second quarter to trim the gap to 8-6.
With just under a minute left in the first half, Jake Zamora poked through the middle of the line for a 16-yard touchdown, capping an 11-play drive to put the Bears up 14-6.
“All I saw was an open hole,” Zamora said.
The Tigers returned the ensuing kickoff into Estancia territory and got down to the Bears 2-yard line but time expired and the score remained 14-6 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Estancia’s only possession was hampered by a flurry of flags, including four false start penalties—three on consecutive plays—before the drive ended when the Tigers intercepted a Boyer pass at their own 5-yard line.
The third quarter ended with the Bears still clinging to a 14-6 lead.
Early in the fourth quarter, Lujan scored on a sweep around the left and added the 2-point conversion to extend the Bears’ lead to 22-6.
Later in the fourth, Lujan capped a nine-play drive with a 10-yard plunge up the middle to boost the lead to 28-6 with 3:19 remaining.
“I just saw a lane and tried to get as much as I could,” Lujan said. He finished with a whopping 289 yards rushing on 31 carries.
The Bears ran the ball 38 times for 362 yards.
“It was probably our best win, probably the best team we’ve beat,” Burnett said.” Their record doesn’t show it, but they know how to attack us.”
The win was the Bears’ fifth consecutive of the season and improved their record to 5-2. They host the Newcomb Skyhawks (5-2) on Oct. 11.
Ger has been writing and shooting photos of high school sports for The Independent for 15 years. His dedication to youth athletics goes beyond sports reporting. He is past president of East Mountain Little League and works as a baseball umpire. He lives in Edgewood with his family.