The Ignacio High School football team launched an impressive aerial attack Saturday to score their first points, and first lead, of the season.
The only problem: Anything the Bobcats did in the air, the Dolores Huerta Scorpions did better on the ground.
Sophomore quarterback Adison Jones was the Bobcats’ workhorse at a cloudy Ignacio High School, completing 25 of 43 passes for 280 yards, two touchdowns and an interception to go with his 17 yards on the ground and single rushing touchdown.
But that wasn’t near enough to compete with the four-pronged Scorpions’ rushing attack, which steamrolled the Bobcats’ defense for 478 yards and a 58-30 final.
“We struggled where I really thought we were strongest,” IHS head coach Lupe Huerta said. He was referring to his defense.
It took the Scorpions just a single play to take the lead, when Keven Steele took the first play of their first possession from scrimmage down the right sideline for a 60-yard touchdown.
Steele punished poor Bobcats’ tackling in the first half, racking up 174 of his 186-yard total and four of his five touchdowns in that frame by keeping his thick legs churning and hitting holes without any hesitation.
“They were tackling straight up,” Ignacio cornerback Chase Sanchez said of his defense. “Never tackle above the numbers – always below the waist.”
Although weak tackling would plague the Bobcats’ defense throughout the game, the Ignacio offense didn’t waste much time in scoring their first points of the season.
The Bobcats’ second possession ground out almost a full eight minutes as Jones hit his targets and kept moving the chains.
A roughing-the-kicker penalty on the Scorpions halfway through the drive kept the Bobcats alive, before a spectacular contested catch on third-and-8 by Clayton Jefferson pulled the Bobcats to the 6-inch line.
“It’s just reproduction, going over (those situations) in practice,” Jones said of the myriad third- and fourth-down situations the Bobcats converted Saturday.
Jefferson was Jones’ favorite and most reliable target, grabbing 10 catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Antonio Torres added eight more receptions for 66 yards.
But the first Bobcats’ points of the season went to Jones, who punched the ball in on a fourth-down quarterback sneak to score the Bobcats’ first six points and give them their first lead, 8-6.
It didn’t last long.
At practice last week, Huerta said he had no concerns that the Scorpions would be able to jam the football up the middle – which is exactly what they did, waltzing through big holes and breaking tackle after tackle.
Steele added his second touchdown on the first play of the second quarter – Dolores Huerta’s third play of the game – with a 35-yard touchdown run right up the middle, shrugging off Ignacio defenders.
Breaking the front four’s tendency to stand straight up is critical going forward, Huerta said.
After a three-and-out, Scorpions’ quarterback Brandon Ketchum added six more on their fourth play, completing a 61-yard touchdown pass before a two-point conversion made it 20-8.
On the day, Ketchum was 2-for-3 for 87 yards and a touchdown and 76 yards rushing.
After another Bobcats’ three-and-out, Steele notched his third touchdown on a 66-yard touchdown.
The Bobcats pulled within two scores as the first half was winding down, putting together a drive that started on their own 25 and was punctuated by a 38-yard hookup from Jones – hit as he threw – to Jefferson to make it 26-14 after a failed two-point conversion.
“I’m happy with our offense,” Huerta said.
“Adison did a great job,” he said. The offensive line, he said, gave him plenty of time in the pocket to find targets. “The line did really well; good blocking.”
A short Dolores Huerta drive – this one taking seven plays – reopened the gap, and Ignacio had a chance to close it back up, driving to the Scorpions’ 21-yard line in less than 50 seconds before the first half expired.
After the break, Jared Mestas, a smaller Scorpions’ running back, scored two touchdowns en route to his 128 total yards.
Dolores Huerta scored on its opening drive of the second half, then recovered a bungled kickoff to go up 46-14.
Ignacio put together another time-eating drive capped by a second Jones-to-Jefferson touchdown, this one from 6 yards out, but Steele and the Scorpions answered on a drive that featured four consecutive penalties in a penalty-ridden game and provided the Bobcats with their best opportunities to get a defensive stop.
The Bobcats forced a fourth-and-long situation, aided by strong tackles from Sanchez, who tallied about half a dozen in the second half.
“He played like a little madman there at the end,” Huerta said.
But they weren’t able to capitalize, the Scorpions scored, and on the Bobcats’ next possession, a turnover allowed the Pueblo prep school to go up 58-22 on another long, full-field drive.
Jones, with 2½ to play in regulation, completed 5 of 8 passes and rolled down the field to set up running back Austin Haire for the final, two-yard touchdown with 20 seconds remaining and the 58-30 final.
“You score 30 points, you should be able to win a game,” Huerta said.