BLACKWATER DRAW — The Portales Rams had a hunch they’d left a few points on the field when they lost to District 4-3A rival Lovington 17-14 in late October on the Wildcats’ blue turf.
They found them in Saturday’s Class 3A state championship game at Greyhound Stadium.
Senior quarterback Michael Trujillo passed for 409 yards and six touchdowns and also ran for a score as Portales (10-3) earned its first state title in 20 years with a 48-10 dismantling of Lovington.
Third-year Rams coach Andy Correll said the tide began to swing last weekend when he won a coin flip to determine home field.
“Lovington’s a great football team, but I knew that coming in here would be pretty hard,” Correll said. “Our kids just executed to the level they can.”
The win was the first for Portales over Lovington since 1996, although the Wildcats had to hold off a last-ditch bid by the Rams to nail down the earlier meeting.
This time, Portales (10-3) scored on its first four possessions — the first three drives each covering 80 yards — and had the game well in hand by halftime with a 34-10 lead.
“They jumped out on us, took it to us and we could never recover,” Wildcats coach Jaime Quinones said. “We just didn’t get the job done.”
Lovington finally forced a three-and-out on Portales’ fifth possession, but the dagger came in the final minute of the half.
Trujillo overthrew Lucas Pickard near the goal, only to have the ball bounce off Lovington’s Tyler Gruenewald and into the hands of Portales’ Shawn Sites for a 21-yard touchdown with three seconds left in the half.
Sites caught six passes for 69 yards and two scores. He was one of seven receivers for Trujillo, who went 28-of-34.
Portales finished with 528 total yards.
“We knew the first time was a fluke,” Sites said of the loss in Lovington. “We were pretty pumped up coming out; we had something to prove.”
Sites admitted some surprise at the margin of victory.
“I figured it’d be a little closer,” he said. “But we put a whippin’ on them, I think.”
Senior wide receiver Brandon Adkins had seven catches for 69 yards and a touchdown, while junior running back Jesus Davalos rushed for 116 yards on just 13 carries and caught five passes for 88 yards and a score.
Meantime, junior Shawn Carrasco had three catches for 133 yards and a TD, including two grabs of at least 60 yards.
“I’m glad we came out and played our best,” Carrasco said. “I’m going to miss (the 18) seniors. We’ve achieved our goal from the beginning of the year.”
The Wildcats marched the ball into scoring position on their first drive, but had to settle for Rafael Herrera’s 36-yard field goal. They managed only a 1-yard TD run by Edgar Medina in the second quarter after that as the Rams limited them to 228 total yards.
Trujillo said everyone contributed.
“Our receivers did a tremendous job, and so did the line,” he said. “It was a team effort. We knew we had to keep our composure and play for four quarters.”
Correll acknowledged he felt good about his team’s chances coming in.
“We didn’t get any breaks at their place, but we didn’t play good enough to beat them,” he said. “These guys have worked hard enough to achieve this. They definitely deserve it.”