Moriarty High School’s football players huddled quietly in the locker room during a third-quarter lightning delay in the team’s Aug. 27 home opener against the Santa Fe Demons. The opening kickoff had been delayed an hour due to lightning, and just before 10 p.m. more lightning caused another delay.
Pintos head coach Gabe Romero told the players to stay focused, believing they were soon going to go back out onto the field and resume the game. But around 10:25, following another lightning strike, the officials pulled the plug on the game, handing the Pintos a 27-13 defeat.
“We had the one [lightning strike] and they pushed it back to about 10:30 or so and then there was another one, so that last one would’ve had us going back out there at around 11, and so the officials just said that’s too late,” Romero said.
The start of the season for the Pintos has been tough, with their originally scheduled season opener on Aug. 20 at West Las Vegas getting canceled due to Covid-related issues. A week later, their home opener got cut short by lightning.
But the jolt in the loss to Santa Fe boiled down to the Pintos surrendering a few monster plays to Demons senior running back Martell Mora. “Their big plays killed us, that’s all there is to it,” Romero said.
After the Pintos went three-and-out on their first possession, Santa Fe scored on the second play of its opening drive with a 52-yard run by Mora.
The Pintos then put together an 11-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by a 25-yard touchdown run by Cayden Dunn. Facing fourth-and-3, Dunn burst through a hole on the left side and darted into the end zone to cut Santa Fe’s lead to 7-6 with 2:40 left in the first quarter.
“It was just good blocking, just a wide-open hole,” Dunn said.
Romero added that Dunn “hit that hole well and saw daylight, I don’t know if they even touched him—it was a well-executed play.”
Santa Fe responded with Mora’s second touchdown of the game—an 86-yard burst that put the Demons ahead 14-6 at the end of the first quarter.
Near the end of the second quarter, Santa Fe mounted a 93-yard drive that culminated with Mora’s third rushing TD and a 21-6 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Moriarty’s Gray Wolf galloped down the sideline for a 74-yard touchdown return with just over two minutes left in the first half.
“Everything went perfect on that play,” Wolf said. “Great, great blocking, everyone did their job and we got it done.”
“It’s been a long time since we’ve scored on special teams so that was nice to see,” Romero added. “I thought Gray did a good job of finding that crease and hitting it.”
David Vaquera, a soccer player and cross country runner who just joined the football team, made the point-after kick, his first ever, to trim the margin to 21-13.
“It was pretty exciting,” Vaquera said of his inaugural PAT.
On Santa Fe’s first play of the third quarter, Mora caught a screen pass and took it 65 yards for another TD to extend the Demons’ lead to 27-13.
“That guy’s fast, and it’s impossible to simulate that speed,” Romero said of Mora.
On their next possession the Pintos got into Santa Fe territory before the drive stalled and they turned the ball over on downs.
Then lightning sidelined the game.
“Coming out of the half, their first play from scrimmage, another big play, and so I think that kinda swung some momentum in their favor,” Romero said, adding, “We played hard, we fought, we put ourselves in a position where we coulda made a run at it, unfortunately I guess the lightning had other plans.”