Tucumcari quarterback Matt Smith tries to escape Portales linebacker Taylor Teague in Friday’s game at Greyhound Stadium. (CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks)
By Mickey Winfield: Freedom Newspapers
BLACKWATER DRAW — Portales held on to beat Tucumcari 7-6 in a defensive struggle Friday night at Greyhound Stadium in the Rams’ homecoming game.
Minutes after a 55-yard field goal attempt by Tucumcari (1-5) fell short, Portales coach Andy Correll said the Ram defense deserved the credit for the win.
“The defense did great tonight, they did exactly what they had to do to win the ball game,” Correll said. “They kept us in it all night, the offense struggled.”
Portales senior running back Eric Segovia agreed, and also pointed to distractions surrounding the homecoming game.
“I think the homecoming distractions killed us,” said Segovia, who rushed for a team-high 61 yards and scored Portales’ touchdown late in the first quarter. “It made us overlook (Tucumcari).”
Portales finished the contest with 148 yards on the ground, while completing just two passes for 16 yards. Tucumcari ran for 155 yards and threw for another 72.
It took the Rams just two plays in their second drive of the game to score. Segovia went off tackle to the right, broke a Rattler tackle, and scored from 32 yards out to put the Rams up 7-0 in the first quarter. The teams traded stalled possessions and turnovers the rest of the half.
The Rams (2-3) nursed the seven-point lead until the fourth quarter when Tucumcari junior defensive back Wesley Martinez intercepted a Chris Mosier pass at midfield.
The Rattlers (1-5) faced a fourth-and-4 from the Portales 29-yard line, and converted on a 12-yard pass from quarterback Matt Smith to fellow senior Drew White. Two plays later, senior running back Brian Lopez went up the middle and scored from 11 yards out, but senior kicker Anas Badshah had his extra point kick partially blocked.
Portales fumbled its final play of the fourth quarter, setting up the Rattlers’ final drive, which ended in the missed field goal attempt.
Correll was not happy with the Rams’ offensive effort.
“We never really got in our rhythm,” Correll said. “We scored early; we made some good drives; and we would just stall out.”
Tucumcari head coach Dub Smith was impressed by what he saw on both sides.
“We played against Portales toe-to-toe,” Smith said. “I feel tonight was the marking of a championship team. We showed a lot of improvements.”
Portales has a bye week next Friday before traveling to Roswell High. Tucumcari travels to Dexter Friday night.