DORA — Elida did what it could to earn an automatic bid to the state playoffs, beating county rival Dora 44-25 in a 6-man District 1 game Friday afternoon.
Jordyn Tivis threw for 181 yards and four touchdowns and Alex Varela returned his fourth kickoff this season for a touchdown for the Tigers (5-4), who finished in a three-way tie for second in the district with Valley Christian and Hondo at 3-2. However, Valley Christian earned the district’s second automatic state bid on a point-differential tie-breaker.
The top teams in each district — Lake Arthur won the district title by beating Hondo on Friday — earn automatic state bids.
Elida still has a chance to earn one of the two at-large bids that fill out the six-team playoffs. The New Mexico Activities Association will select those two teams today.
“I feel we deserved it,” Elida coach Clay Ferguson said. “I think we play in a tougher district.”
Ferguson thinks Hondo will get one bid, with Elida and San Jon vying for the last spot.
“We started off slow and it looked like it was going to be a repeat of the Hondo game (a 71-24 loss),” Ferguson said. “We came out flat and then the kids came on. (Sophomore Tucker Morgan) on defense, I think, is what finally got us fired up. That kid had a good game on defense. I bet the other kids saw how hard he was working and we got pumped up.”
Elida outscored Dora 20-6 in the second quarter to take a 32-18 halftime lead. Tivis had touchdown passes of 16 yards to Varela and 25 yards to Magin Montoya.
After Michael Puebla scored his second touchdown of the half on a 5-yard run to pull Dora within 26-18, Varela return the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for a score.
Puebla finished with 81 yards rushing with Anthony Pena added 76 yards and a score for the Coyotes (2-7, 1-4).
“We didn’t show up to play,” Dora coach Leonard Velasquez. “It was a matter of execution and we didn’t execute. That kickoff return I think broke our backs.”