Portales junior Michael Trujillo carries the ball late in the second quarter
BLACKWATER DRAW — Despite a stellar defensive effort in the second half, the Portales Rams couldn’t make up a 21-point first half deficit against the Slaton, Texas, Tigers.
Portales dropped to 0-3 on the season with a 21-6 loss at home Friday.
Tiger junior running back Andy Garcia ran for 73 of his 111 total rushing yards in the first half to spark three touchdowns for his teammates.
The Ram defense checked Garcia’s day at the races in the third quarter as they held him to no yardage in the period. The damage was done, though and a sputtering Ram offense couldn’t recover.
“The defense played hard; they always do in the second half,” Ram coach Andy Correll said. “That was the biggest thing we talked about at the half, was stopping him (Garcia),”
Slaton got its first touchdown at the 8:43 mark of the first quarter off a 15-yard run by senior Jesse Rios.
Portales appeared to be answering midway through the period as the defense came up with a big stop on a fourth-and-1 fake punt by the Tigers. But a misfire by Ram senior quarterback Chris Mosier that ended up in the hands of Tiger senior A.J. Davila, and a fumble by the Rams on their own 1-yard line of the next possession set up Slaton’s next score.
Junior quarterback Jace Chancellor dove into the endzone on a 1-yard run early in the second period to put Slaton up 14-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Rams fumbled the ball back to the Tigers on the Ram 32. A few plays later, following a Garcia 8-yard rumble to the Ram 1-yard line, Chancellor scored again.
“Way more went wrong tonight than went right,” Correll said, noting the kickoff miscue and the fumble on his team’s own 1-yard line. “We just played as bad a game as we possibly could.”
After fumbling the kickoff again and narrowly recovering, the Rams finally took advantage of a short field to mount a sustained drive.
Mosier ran three consecutive 6-yard scampers on his own to drive his team to the Tiger 20. As hope started to fade with a fourth-and-nine, Mosier connected on a pass to junior Michael Trujillo at the 9-yard line.
A 6-yard lateral to senior running back Ricky Lovato set up a 3-yard touchdown run for Mosier from the shotgun with 1:16 left in the half. After a penalty the conversion attempt fell short.
Garcia runs of 23 and five yards in the fourth, along with a fourth-and-2 conversion by Chancellor spelled the end for Portales. Slaton ran the clock out on the Ram 20.
A frustrated Correll said Slaton didn’t really surprise Portales, but he had few kind words for his own offense.
“The offense had better find itself, and quick,” Correll vowed. “I think we handed it to them — big time.”
Mosier, who rushed for 61 yards and went 6-12 for 58 yards passing, said after the game that the Ram offense obviously didn’t have its head in the game.
“Offensively, we weren’t thinking right, we had too many mental errors out there,” Mosier said. “We’re going to have to focus up and focus up all week (in practice) to recover. We can’t have any mental breakdowns on Friday night.”
The Rams continue the homestand Friday with Raton.