IGNACIO — One bad ankle turn fortunately didn’t lead to another.
And despite having to somewhat alter the game plan at the last minute, John McGraw’s Vikings overcame a freak pregame injury to freshman Armando Salazar and rode the running of senior Cosme Cordova and senior Devin Porres to stun Ignacio in overtime, 12 to 6 Friday night at IHS Field.
“All credit goes to the kids,” beamed McGraw. “Every time we meet or exceed a goal, we come back and say we’re moving the bar further up. Even last week, when Centauri comes and knocks that bar right off the standard—those guys are tough, and that’s where we want to be.”
Cordova (15-71 rushing, unofficially) ultimately set off visiting Center’s celebration with a two-yard plunge on CHS’ third of four guaranteed plays from the Bobcat 10, after IHS senior Mike Archuleta missed a 26-yard field goal. He’d also sent a 25-yarder wide left as regulation time expired, giving Center new life as they looked to bounce back from last week’s 55-19 loss in La Jara.
“That final play, I was pretty nervous for my team,” said Cordova, “but I believe in them and we believe in ourselves, and we got hyped again. Got through it, and I couldn’t do it without my team.”
After a scoreless first half, which nearly changed when Center’s Abraham Echauri had a 96-yard interception return (his second pick of Ignacio’s Ian Weinreich in as many defensive series) with 6:55 left before intermission negated by penalty, the home team finally struck first.
Senior lineman Lucas Roderick recovered a CHS fumble on the third quarter’s first play, and the ’Cats—crushed 49-0 last Saturday at Colorado Springs Christian—drove 28 yards in seven plays, with Lawrence Toledo scoring from four yards out with 7:54 left. Archuleta’s point-after kick failed, however, and the Vikes didn’t waste the opportunity to build momentum.
Set up at their 43 after the kickoff, Cordova bolted 18 yards to IHS’ 39 on first down, and Porres (6-64) sprinted for a 39-yard TD on second—just 36 ticks after Toledo’s tote. Sophomore quarterback Habran Delacruz’s two-point pass fell short, but Center (4-2, 1-1 1A Southern Peaks) was in business.
“At that point everybody just put their heads back into the game,” said Cordova. “We had struggles, we had second-string starting, and we…broke through when we had to break through.”
“That’s Devin’s m.o. If you swing at Devin, he’ll swing back twice; he likes a challenge,” McGraw said. “And when things don’t go his way he tends to find another gear. He’s a real tough guy to bring down.”
As both sides bore down and the game carried into the fourth quarter, CHS’ next two possessions ended in Delacruz punts. Ignacio (2-4, 0-1) then kicked the ball away after five plays, but junior Clay Campbell’s effort went 43 yards and died at the Viking 17 with 5:06 left.
Able to patiently move the ball out to the Bobcat 43 in only seven plays, Delacruz looked long to Echuari and threw incomplete. McGraw called timeout with 1:23 remaining, but on a shorter fourth-down throw, Delacruz’s mid-range pass was intercepted by IHS freshman Sean Campbell, who returned it 44 yards. An unnecessary-roughness penalty against Center advanced the ball even nearer the goal line, and the ’Cats looked to prevail after being set up at the Viking 9 with 1:10 left.
But three runs netted Ignacio just one yard, and Archuleta was sent out to attempt a straight-on, 25-yard FG with 0:05 showing on the scoreboard.
“We were lucky to come out of here with a win,” grinned McGraw. “I’m very proud of these guys; nobody gave them much of a chance. So to be where we are right now, it says a lot about them.”
Delacruz unofficially totaled 53 yards on 9-of-17 passing, and added 39 yards on six carries. Bobcat workhorse Dustin Sanchez, meanwhile, carried 26 times for an impressive 163 yards in defeat.
Up next for Center will be an Oct. 12 non-conference visit from Colorado Springs St. Mary’s, with kickoff against the Tri-Peaks’ Pirates scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Ignacio, meanwhile, will continue SPC work that night with a 7 p.m. start at Monte Vista.