Estancia’s scoring frenzy dismantles Escalante in state quarterfinals

Bears set record for fifth consecutive trip to state semis

Estancia High’s Josh Thomas scored a career-high six touchdowns, Andrew Lujan added three and the Bears football team cruised to a 63-12 mercy-ruled blowout over the visiting Escalante Lobos Nov. 9 in the Class 2A state quarterfinals.

The No. 4 Bears (7-3, 4-0) scored nine touchdowns and tallied 630 yards on just 19 offensive plays.

“It was fun to watch,” Estancia head coach Stewart Burnett said. “Josh played a whale of a game, and what Andrew did to compliment Josh, holy cow.”

Estancia head coach Stewart Burnett congratulating his team, who are all wearing the Charlson name on their jerseys, after their playoff victory over Escalante. 

On the second play of Estancia’s opening drive, Cruz Moreno tossed a screen pass to Thomas who bolted for a 74-yard catch-and-run touchdown to give the Bears an early 6-0 lead.

“We put that screen in just for this game based on what we’d seen on film,” Burnett said.

On the first play of Estancia’s second possession, Lujan broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and darted 53 yards for his first touchdown of the game.

On the first play of Estancia’s next possession—following an Escalante punt that pinned the Bears back on their own 11-yard line—Thomas took a direct snap, swept to the left side and dashed 89 yards to the end zone.

Brian Walker caught the 2-point conversion pass to boost Estancia’s lead to 22-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Lujan’s 61-yard TD capped a five-play drive in the second quarter to put the Bears up 28-0.

Escalante got on the board on its next possession to trim the lead to 28-6.

But Estancia responded on its next drive with the fake of the season.

After a 43-yard TD by Lujan was nullified by a penalty, the Bears ran what appeared to be the exact same play: Lujan sweeping to the right side—and every Escalante defender on the field gave chase and tried to pounce on him.

No one noticed Thomas strolling down the other side of the field—until he was standing in the end zone holding the ball over his head.

“That was pretty,” Burnett said. “It’s a counter play to our sweep, nobody knew where the ball was at.”

Escalante scored on its next drive, but two plays later, Thomas’ 57-yard TD gave the Bears a 42-12 advantage.

Fewer than 10 seconds had ticked off the clock when Estancia recovered a Lobos’ fumble.

That set up Lujan’s third TD of the game—a 25-yard jaunt to push the lead to 50-12. Lujan totaled 147 yards rushing on five carries.

On the first play of the Bears final possession of the first half, Thomas raced 70 yards to the end zone to pad the lead to 57-12 at halftime.

Following the second half kickoff, the Bears were once again pinned on their own 11-yard line.

But on first down, Thomas slashed through a hole for an 89-yard TD to end the game on the 50-point mercy rule with 11:39 left in the third quarter.

“It’s a super-big win, super big for the team,” said Thomas, who finished with 384 yards rushing on 10 carries. “I just wanted to come out and give it all for the Charlson family, this game was definitely for them.”

Auctioneer Steve Vandiver, Drayton Oberg and Bears assistant coach Daniel Pierce during the postgame auctioning off of the Bears’ jerseys, a fundraiser for the Charlson family.

Thomas was referring to Brian Charlson, an Estancia family man who passed away recently. All the Estancia players wore the name Charlson on their jerseys during the game in his honor.

After the game, the team auctioned off the jerseys to raise money for the family. Burnett said more than $11,000 was raised, noting the jersey that was signed by the entire team sold for $2,600.

With the victory over Escalante, the Bears head to their fifth-consecutive state semifinals—a school record—to face their perennial nemesis, top-ranked Eunice (10-0) on Nov. 17.