Two fourth-quarter touchdowns and a big defensive takeaway in the game’s final minutes helped lift Moriarty to a 41-20 victory over the visiting Hope Christian Huskies last Friday.
After the Huskies scored two unanswered touchdowns to pull within striking distance midway through the fourth quarter, Moriarty senior running back Elijah Tapia broke loose for a 42-yard TD.
Tapia added a 52-yarder with 5:01 left in the game.
“That was very big,” said Tapia, who piled up more than 200 yards rushing in the game. “To get those two scores back meant a lot, it really hurt them.”
Hope had one last chance and moved the ball to midfield but Moriarty senior defensive back—and co-quarterback—Nick Padilla intercepted a Huskies pass to nail down the win. “We needed a good defensive stop there, they were driving,” Padilla said. “I just read the quarterback’s eyes, he threw it right over the middle, and I just jumped up and grabbed it.”
In the first half, Marvin Encinias scored a pair of touchdowns—one on a kick return—and Padilla scored on a quarterback keeper from inside the 5-yard line to put the Pintos up 21-7 at halftime.
Midway through the third quarter Moriarty’s other quarterback Dylan Tapia connected on an 11-yard strike to Xavier Romero and the Pintos were sitting on a 27-7 cushion. But then a string of Pintos penalties combined with two Hope touchdown passes cut Moriarty’s lead to 27-20.
The Huskies were also called for several personal fouls—one that provoked the Pintos into a dust-up that resulted in off-setting penalties.
“There was a stretch where we couldn’t do anything without a flag and we let them back in it,” Moriarty head coach Joe Anaya said. “Once we overcame that, we quit worrying about it and just played football.”
The Pintos’ biggest test of the season will be Friday when they travel to Portales to take on the 7-1 Rams. “They’ll be really tough,” Anaya said.
Ger has been writing and shooting photos of high school sports for The Independent for 15 years. His dedication to youth athletics goes beyond sports reporting. He is past president of East Mountain Little League and works as a baseball umpire. He lives in Edgewood with his family.