Moriarty High’s football team huddled together in the middle of the field following last Friday’s game. The players held their helmets skyward and cheered, “Family on three, one-two-three, FAMILY!”

The Pintos were exuberant after getting back in the win column with a 43-0 blowout over the visiting Thoreau Hawks.

Midway through September the Pintos (5-1) lost senior running back Matt Smith to a season-ending leg injury. On Sept. 22 the team suffered its first loss of the season.

Moriarty used its end-of-September bye week to regroup and returned to action like a ball of fire. The Pintos cashed in on several Thoreau turnovers and erupted for 40 points—all in the first quarter.

After a loss, you want to see how the team’s going to respond and I thought we responded really well,” Moriarty head coach Joe Anaya said. “We came out with a lot of energy.”

Xavier Romero ran for three touchdowns, Marvin Encinias ran for one, Caleb Flaming caught a touchdown pass, and Moriarty’s stifling defense did the rest.

Encinias’ 9-yard scamper capped Moriarty’s four-play opening drive, consuming less than a minute and a half. “I remember coming out pumped up,” he said. “I really wanted to score—set the tempo.”

The Hawks (4-2) coughed up the ball on their first play from scrimmage and fumbled again on the third play of their next possession. Both turnovers led to touchdowns by Romero.

On Thoreau’s third possession, Moriarty defensive back Tyler Murphy intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown. “The wind kinda took it and I just waited there and caught it—then I saw Jesse [Lara] going to block for me so I just ran as fast as I could,” Murphy said of his pick-six.

Xavier Romero slicing through the Thoreau defense. Photo by G. Demarest.

Barely 6 seconds had ticked off the clock when Lara recovered another Thoreau fumble, giving the Pintos first-and-10 at the Hawks 26-yard line.

Quarterback Dylan Tapia connected on a short pass over the middle to Flaming who broke a tackle and scored. “I was just thinking, ‘run the route, touch the ball, and find the end zone,’ it was a great feeling,” Flaming said about his first-ever varsity touchdown catch.

On the first play of Moriarty’s next possession, Romero burst through a hole and blasted 40 yards for his third TD—the most he’s scored in a varsity game.

Last year I scored three touchdowns in the whole season. I think it’s pretty big,” Romero said, adding, “Matt going down was a big loss, so I’m glad I was able to do my part.” He led the team in rushing with 75 yards on six carries.

The Pintos added a field goal just before halftime to complete the scoring.

This [win] means a lot, we feel a little better now,” Encinias said. “We’ll see how good we do in districts.”

The Pintos begin their District 4-4A matchups Friday when they host the New Mexico Military Institute Colts.