Rebounding from a costly loss to Lordsburg, the Estancia Bears football team flattened the visiting Loving Falcons Nov. 2 in the first round of the Class 2A state playoffs.
Senior running back Andrew Lujan’s five touchdowns and a stifling defense helped propel the No. 5 Bears (8-3) to a 58-7 mercy-rule shortened victory over the twelfth-seeded Falcons (2-8).
“It’s a good feeling to get back on track because it’s one-and-done now,” Lujan said. “If we don’t come out and perform, our season’s over.”
The Bears, who lost 60-52 in their Oct. 25 regular-season finale at Lordsburg, scored on their first play from scrimmage against Loving when Lujan bolted for a 52-yard touchdown.
“Naz [Astorga], Jake [Zamora], and Hez [Ortiz] got the down blocks, and Luke [Pope] got the kickout and I just took off,” Lujan said.
Marino Rivera-Noblitt’s 11-yard touchdown on Estancia’s next possession put the Bears up 14-0.
Garrett Noblitt returned a punt 84 yards and Lujan added the 2-point conversion for a 22-0 lead.
Lujan scored his second touchdown on a 36-yard scamper and Jake Zamora added the 2-point conversion to extend the Bears’ lead to 30-0 midway through the first quarter.
The Falcons’ only touchdown came on their next possession when quarterback Dylan Green broke through a hole and scored on a 69-yard run.
Estancia answered on the ensuing kickoff with an 83-yard return for a touchdown by Rivera-Noblitt to give the Bears a 36-7 cushion at the end of the first quarter.
On the first play of the second quarter, Lujan scored his third TD on a 52-yard run.
After the Bears forced the Falcons to turn the ball over on downs, Lujan broke free for a 63-yard gain to put the Bears inside the Loving 5-yard line. Two plays later he scored on a 2-yard jaunt and added the 2-pointer for a 50-7 advantage.
Lujan scored his fifth TD on a 65-yard run—his longest of the day—with 2:33 left in the first half. He finished with 248 yards rushing on seven carries.
Estancia stopped the Falcons on their final possession when Lujan intercepted a pass on fourth down. The Bears defense sacked Loving’s quarterback four times and recovered two fumbles.
The game ended at halftime on the 50-point margin mercy rule.
With the win, the Bears advance to their seventh-consecutive state quarterfinals on Nov. 8 to take on the No. 4 Fort Sumner/House combo team (6-2).
“We get another opportunity to do something meaningful,” Estancia head coach Stewart Burnett said about advancing in the playoffs, adding, “Hopefully we’ve learned our lessons [from the loss to Lordsburg]. Fort Sumner’s a very good team—we’re gonna have to play the best game we’ve played all year.”
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.