Moriarty High’s football team sputtered early and suffered two key injuries, but three unanswered touchdowns lifted the Pintos over the visiting Socorro Warriors in last Friday’s first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.

The twelfth-seeded Warriors benefitted from a 62-yard run on their opening drive to get inside the Moriarty 5-yard line. Two plays later Socorro took an early 7-0 lead.

“That big play kinda woke us up,” Moriarty quarterback Dylan Tapia said.

The No. 5 Pintos responded with a 14-play, 80-yard drive of their own to tie the game at 7.

On Moriarty’s next drive, Tapia threw a 42-yard touchdown strike to Marvin Encinias to put the Pintos up 14-7.

Socorro’s next drive moved into Moriarty territory but stalled at the Pintos 32-yard line and the Warriors turned the ball over on downs.

But during Socorro’s possession, Moriarty’s defensive back slash running back J.P. Carmona got hurt and had to be helped off the field. The Pintos then fumbled on their first play giving Socorro the ball at the Moriarty 15-yard line.

The Warriors scored on a TD pass to knot the score, 14-14.

“I don’t think we started off very well,” Moriarty head coach Joe Anaya said. “Once we settled down we played pretty good, we did a much better job of flying around, making tackles, and finishing plays, but give Socorro credit, they’re a scrappy bunch.”

Tapia scored on a quarterback bootleg to the left side with 1:28 remaining in the second quarter to give the Pintos a 22-14 lead at halftime.

“All my guys got out in front of me and then it was a walk in,” Tapia said of his TD.

Midway through the third quarter, Xavier Romero’s 30-yard touchdown run put the Pintos ahead 29-14. Jose Cano’s 9-yard scoot in the fourth capped the Pintos’ scoring.

With under five minutes left in the game, Moriarty suffered another injury when defensive back and wide receiver Tyler Murphy hurt his leg and was helped off the field.

With the win, the Pintos advance to Friday’s quarterfinals and a trip back to Ruidoso for a rematch against the fourth-seeded district rival that beat Moriarty two weeks ago.

On Monday, Anaya said Carmona was scheduled for an MRI on his leg, and Murphy was “day-to-day,” but remained confident. “If we play the way we’re capable of playing, I think we’ll be OK,” he said.