CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth/Texico running back Johnny Serrano runs past Bovina’s Raymond Chisom during his first quarter touchdown run during Friday’s game at Bovina.
BOVINA — Less than seven minutes into Friday’s season opener against Bovina, the Texico Wolverines appeared to be headed for an easy win.
Bovina didn’t give in though, but simply couldn’t muster enough offense to overcome an early two-touchdown deficit in a 20-6 loss.
Junior running back Johnny Serrano carried 29 times for 202 yards and scored all three Texico touchdowns as the two-time defending New Mexico Class 1A runnersup began a stretch of five consecutive road games.
“We’ve still have to get better,” Texico coach Mike Prokop said. “We have to work on the mental toughness aspect of the game to reach our goals.
“We’ve just got to get more consistent with our execution, especially on offense. But our kids executed when they needed to.”
First-year Bovina coach Kent Torbert also saw good things from his squad.
“We’re better; I’m really proud of our kids,” Torbert said. “Texico’s an awful good football team.
“Our kids showed a lot of composure and stayed with our schemes. Offensively, we struggled, but we knew we were awful young up front.”
Texico capped its first two possessions with touchdown runs of 43 and 4 yards by Serrano. But with the Wolverines threatening again, Bovina defenders Eddie Segovia and Hugo Martinez threw Texico backs for losses totaling 13 yards and the Mustangs took over near midfield.
They then pulled to 14-6 midway through the second quarter when quarterback Jeff Casas hit Raymond Chisom on a fourth-and-11, 22-yard touchdown pass.
But they weren’t able to break through after that, and Texico put the contest out of reach when Johnny Rivera’s long fumble return led to Serrano’s 5-yard touchdown run with just over six minutes left in the game.
Senior defensive end Joe Zaikowski led a Texico defense which held Bovina to five first downs and 130 total yards. He had two quarterback sacks, and was in on several other stops for losses.
Jonathan Chisom rushed for 79 yards for the Mustangs, while Raymond Chisom finished with four pass receptions from Casas for 52 yards.
“They run shotgun a lot, and the coaches told me to just read my keys and keep contain on the quarterback,” Zaikowski said.
Bovina had a chance to pull even late in the half when John Nelson recovered Texico quarterback Braden Vaughan’s errant pitchout at the Wolverines’ 29. But a facemask penalty and a Zaikowski sack ended the drive.
Bovina threatened again in the third quarter after Raymond Chisom returned a Texico punt 23 yards to the Wolverines’ 28. The Mustangs made two first downs to get to the 5, but a holding penalty set them back and another Zaikowski sack pretty much finished the drive.
Serrano said the Wolverines may have relaxed after cruising out to an early lead.
“I don’t really know what happened,” he said. “I guess our defense kind of fell asleep for a moment.
“No. 6 (Raymond Chisom) was real good. When we left him open, he could catch the ball.
“They had some pretty good guys, and they didn’t let down.”