Ignacio and Center played to a tie game in a thrilling first half Friday night. Then, the Bobcats took over.
Behind two big plays from Tyler Barnes to give the Ignacio High School football team the ball in great field position, Gabe Tucson, Joe Garcia and the Ignacio Bobcats took advantage to score 17 unanswered points in the second half to secure a huge 38-21 road win at Center in the Class 1A Southern Peaks League opener.
Barnes recovered a fumble to end a drive by the Center Vikings (3-3, 0-2 SPL) only four plays into the third quarter. Ignacio (2-4, 1-0 SPL) took over on the Center 47-yard line. Eight plays later, Garcia scored on a 3-yard TD run to give Ignacio a 28-21 lead with 5:30 to play in the third quarter. Garcia had two touchdowns on a night in which he rushed for 77 yards on 20 carries for IHS.
Ignacio then attempted an onside kick, and it was Barnes who fell on the loose ball on the Center 43. After a pass interference call set IHS up on the Center 5-yard line, Tucson hit Dylan Labarthe on a TD pass with 1:18 to play in the third quarter that put IHS ahead 35-21.
The Vikings went into desperation mode, and the pass rush for IHS went to work, as sacks from Stephan Gomez and Barnes ended Center’s drive on downs and gave IHS the ball back on its own 33 with 9:23 to play. After a seven-minute drive, Ignacio kicker Alvaro Ros Ortiz, an exchange student from Spain, hit a 30-yard field goal to give IHS a 38-21 lead. Ros Ortiz made all five extra points to go along with his field goal.
Defensively, IHS benefited from a Lawrence Toledo interception and a big fumble recovery by Jeremy Roderick in the second quarter that set up a 50-yard TD pass from Tucson to Colten Jackson that tied the game with 2:37 to go in the first half.
Labarthe finished the game with 36 rushing yards on five carries, while Tucson was 7-of-12 passing for 152 yards, three TDs and no interceptions.
The first IHS score came on a five-play, 50-yard drive that ended in a 5-yard Garcia TD that gave the Bobcats an early 7-0 lead. Center would score consecutive touchdowns on passes from Habran De La Cruz to Carlos Almeida to take a 13-7 lead early in the second quarter.
Only 17 seconds after Center took its initial lead, IHS answered back with a 43-yard TD pass from Tucson to Jackson, who had 111 yards and two scores on three receptions. IHS led 14-13.
The Bobcats then would try an onside kick, but the referee ruled IHS had to kick again, as the whistle had not blown to allow for a kickoff. The referee was holding up play because a car had its headlights shining into the end zone.
Center would take advantage, as four plays later, De La Cruz once again hit Almeida on a 20-yard TD pass and took a 21-14 lead on a 2-point run by Abraham Echauri.
But that wouldn’t last long thanks to the Roderick fumble recovery and the Tucson 50-yard strike to Jackson.
Now, the Bobcats have some momentum going into a tough league game at 7 p.m. Friday at home against Monte Vista (1-5, 1-1 SPL). Centauri (5-1, 2-0 SPL) blasted Monte Vista 56-0 on Friday night in a game many expect to decide the league champion.