By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer
TULAROSA — With a lucky break in the first half and solid play in the second, Portales was able to return home Friday night with a 26-6 win over Tularosa.
A Michael Silva run put the Wildcats (0-2) up 6-0, and it would stay that way untill the final minute of the first half. Nine yards from the end zone the Rams caught a break when a Wildcat defender tipped a would-be interception and the ball fell into the hands of Portales junior Cruz Ontiveros for a touchdown, giving Portales (2-0) a 7-6 lead going into halftime.
Portales coach Glenn Johnson said his team was one tip away from defeat.
“We were lucky to get out of here with a win,” Johnson said. “We came in a little bit flat, and it just about cost us (a win). Every now and then, you got to be lucky.”
The final nail in the Wildcat coffin came on a fourth-and-inches at the Ram 31 in the third quarter. The Rams were ready, and stuffed the run.
“That is what we work on in practice,” said junior Taylor Teague. “Low yardage situations are our bread and butter.”
Seven plays later, Todd McBroom caught a pass from Mario Salazar to put Portales up 13-6 and the Rams never looked back.
“That was big,” Johnson said about the fourth-down stand. “It was an exellent situation for us with our offense coming out and capitializing on it. That pretty much took care of the game from there on out.”
First year Tularosa coach Marc Kneeland said the big plays were the difference in the game.
“We’ve got to make those plays,” Kneeland said. “A team that wins is a team that usually makes plays like that. And tonight we didn’t make them.”
Ontiveros had a great all-around game with 10 rushes for 51 yards and five receptions for 72 yards.
“We could have played him last week,” Johnson said. “But we know what type of impact player he is. We held him out so he could go 100 percent this week.”
Onteveros credits his game-changing catch to being at the right place at the right time.
“I read the corner and the safety, so I figured he was going to throw the hitch route,” Onteveros said. “I wasn’t even looking for the ball but I saw the guy tip it and I turned my head and saw the ball, and I grabbed it.”
On defense, Johnson said Teague is his anchor.
“He’s pretty much the core of our defense,” Johnson said. “With what we try to do defensively, it does nothing but compliment him, his abilities, and his attitude toward defense.”
Teague said he just tries to do his job.
“If I step it up and lead the team, and everyone else is doing their job, I know we are going to play well.
“We know the offense will try a lot harder if we give them good spots on the field to score from. If we give them good field position they are going to play well.”