For the second time in as many weeks, the Estancia Bears football team scored early, sputtered in the second quarter, and needed a fiery pep talk at halftime to bust out a scoring surge and pull out a victory.
Just as they did the previous week, the Bears scored two early touchdowns in their Oct. 11 matchup against the visiting Newcomb Skyhawks (5-3).
But it took five touchdowns in the second half to turn a close contest into a 52-8 blowout.
“I ripped them at halftime and the boys just finally started playing,” Estancia head coach Stewart Burnett said.
On the second play of the game, Estancia running back Andrew Lujan bolted around the right side for a 61-yard touchdown.
On the Bears’ next drive, Marino Rivera-Noblitt hit a seam and dashed 65 yards to the end zone.
That was all the scoring the Bears could muster until the third quarter when Lujan took the ball at his own 7-yard line and ran for a 93-yard touchdown.
Lujan added a 35-yard touchdown run on Estancia’s next possession to put the Bears up 30-0.
“I think we just got complacent,” Lujan said about the sluggish second quarter. “But they [the coaches] said the name on our chest, that’s not how Estancia football is played, and I think we all agreed.” Lujan finished with 314 yards on 20 carries.
Marino-Noblitt scored his second TD on a 41-yard run and Lujan added the 2-point conversion to increase Estancia’s lead to 38-0 with 5:25 left in the third quarter.
Later in the third, after Newcomb completed a couple of passes to get inside the Estancia 10-yard line, the Bears’ defense came up with a big goal-line stand and forced the Skyhawks to turn the ball over on downs.
On first-and-10 from the Bears 2-yard line, Rivera-Noblitt darted 98 yards and added the 2-pointer to extend the lead to 46-0. He finished with 216 yards on five carries.
Newcomb scored its only TD on a pass with 6:21 remaining in the game.
Ja’Brae Boyer connected on a 15-yard TD pass to Garrett Noblitt with 2:23 left to cap the Bears’ scoring.
Estancia ran the ball 32 times to pile up a total of 559 yards rushing.
“I have no issues with the second half, the silver lining is the second half, offensively we could not be stopped,” Burnett said.
The Bears (6-2, 2-0) finish the regular season with two consecutive district games on the road starting with the Mescalero Apache Chiefs on Oct. 18.
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.