A red-hot start put Moriarty High’s football team in the driver’s seat early in the first quarter of its March 19 matchup against St. Pius X.

But the Pintos couldn’t get into the end zone after their first touchdown and the visiting Sartans went home with a 21-6 victory.

“I feel like we started with good energy, but we just didn’t maintain it through the whole game,” Moriarty junior running back Cayden Dunn said.

On the second play of Moriarty’s opening drive, sophomore running back Gray Wolf swept around the right side and sprinted down the sidelines for a 45-yard carry that gave the Pintos a first-and-goal at the Sartans 5-yard line.

Three plays later, Dunn bolted to the left side for a 1-yard touchdown to put the Pintos up 6-0.

“I went to the outside and there was nobody there and I just got in, it was good blocking by my line,” Dunn said.

Moriarty had a chance to add to its lead when St. Pius couldn’t control the ensuing kickoff and the Pintos recovered at the Sartans 36-yard line.

Three plays into the drive, a toss from Bryan Wright toward the sidelines sailed high and skimmed off Dunn’s fingertips. The ball fell to the ground for what looked like an incomplete pass, but the Sartans pounced on it, and because the pass was behind the line of scrimmage, it was ruled a fumble and St. Pius took over.

The Sartans drove inside the Pintos 10, but Moriarty’s defense stopped them and St. Pius turned the ball over on downs.

The Pintos then went three-and-out and punted from their own 5-yard line, giving the Sartans good field position.

St. Pius drove down and scored a touchdown to push ahead 7-6 with less than a minute left in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Moriarty lost a pair of fumbles on two consecutive possessions. The Pintos punted on their third possession, but their defense held the Sartans at bay to keep the score 7-6 at halftime.

“We came out on that first possession, we looked good offensively, then we had some turnovers, we had some miscues and that ended up hurting us,” Moriarty head coach Gabe Romero said.

Late in the third quarter, the Sartans scored their second TD to extend their lead to 14-6.

Early in the fourth quarter, Moriarty mounted a drive that was boosted by a couple of St. Pius penalties that got the Pintos down to the Sartans 20. But the drive fizzled after a rare offensive pass interference call went against Moriarty, followed by an incomplete pass on fourth-and-long.

Pintos running back Gray Wolf heading down the sidelines during the opening drive of Moriarty’s matchup against St. Pius X on March 19. Photo by Ger Demarest.

The Sartans then drove downfield and scored their final TD of the game with 5:19 remaining.

“I thought our defense played really well, I thought our special teams played pretty good, but we gotta get things going offensively,” Romero said. “We’ve had two of those games where, you know, we’ve hung really tough and our defense did a great job and gave us a lot of opportunities—I thought that we had the opportunity but we just couldn’t do it.”

The Pintos play March 27 at Albuquerque Academy. Kickoff is at 4 p.m.