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.”