by Marty Mayfield
RATON — Raton hosted the Tucumcari Rattlers Friday night. Raton took the early lead on a turnover and never looked back, holding Tucumcari scoreless until late in the game on their way to a 35-14 win.
Ismael Tafoya ended the first Tucumcari series when he stepped in front of an Alijah Jimenez pass and took the ball to the Raton 32. Raton moved the ball easily down the field with the help of a pass interference call and an offside penalty. The series ended when Aden Vanderwater scrambled the remaining seven yards to pay dirt for six. Vanderwater’s PAT was good and it was a 7-0 game with at 9:35 on the first quarter clock. The score was the first of what would be Vanderwater’s five rushing TD’s as the Raton offensive line gave the Tiger signal caller open lanes all night.
Raton’s defense came up big on the next series as Tucumcari put together an 18-play 76-yard drive only to end it on the one-foot line where they handed it over to Raton on downs. As the teams switched sides for the second quarter, Vanderwater scampered 88 yards for another Raton score, followed by the PAT, making it 14-0 at 11:43 in the second quarter.
Vanderwater intercepting a Jimenez pass after Tucumcari put together a good five play series that started on the Raton 30-yard line after Seth Martinez took the kickoff 55 yards. With no forward progress, Raton was forced to punt the ball away, but would get it back two plays later when Vanderwater once again intercepted a Jimenez pass.
A 17-yard pass play to Tafoya sparked the Tigers into action. Four plays later, Vanderwater again tucked the ball away and dashed 37 yards for six. The PAT split the uprights and it was 21-0 at 3:38 on the second quarter clock.
Martinez managed to get behind the Tiger kickoff team and took the ball out to the 47. However, Matthew Quartieri picked off a Jimenez pass two plays later to give Raton the ball on the Raton 35.
Richie Acevedo found the holes and scampered 40 yards to get the Tigers inside the red zone. An offside penalty took the ball half the distance to the goal at the three. An easy romp to pay dirt for Vanderwater added the extra point and it was 28-0 with 23 seconds left in the first half.
Third quarter action saw Raton falter after a 10-play series that turned the ball over on downs at the Tucucmari 21. Tucumcari drove the ball 79 yards in 14 plays for six and their first score of the game. The PAT was good and made it 28-7 with 28 seconds left in the third quarter.
Raton took the ball into the fourth quarter and culminated the drive with a 10-yard run by Vanderwater. His PAT was good and it was 35-7 at 10:36 in the fourth.
Raton got the ball back on an onside kick off and, with the misfortune of a holding penalty and illegal procedure penalty, finally had to punt the ball away. It was back and forth until Tucumcari put together a 7-play drive that ended with a 38-yard romp by Rod Dunlap for six. The PAT was good and it was a 35-14 game that Raton finished off with a knee.
Raton travels to Laguna Acoma Friday, a long bus ride to meet a team they haven’t yet seen play on video. The coaches hope to see some footage this week to determine what they will have to do to beat the Hawks. The following week will be homecoming week in Raton with the Tigers hosting Albuquerque Academy on September 28.
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