Sophomore quarterback Easton Bruere threw four touchdown passes to lead the Rio Rancho High School Rams to a 42-21 win over the Las Cruces High School Bulldawgs Monday. It was a team effort as Bruere's offensive line gave him good protection, wide receivers Austin Patterson and Tristen Foley and running back Ulises Astorga played extremely well.
The fourth quarter began with Rio Rancho leading 35-14. Las Cruce's J.j Granados picked up six yards on a running play as the Bulldawgs tried to get back into the game. Granados ran to his left for four more yards just shy of a first down. Then Bulldawg quarterback Jonathan Joy faked a handoff, made a pump fake and threw a 38 yard touchdown pass to wide open Michael Calzada. Las Cruces inched closer 35-21 as Allen Garcia kicked the extra point.
When Rio Rancho got the ball back Bruere's pass down the middle to Austin Patterson was good for 17 yards. But on the next play Bulldawg Kamryn Dixon tackled Bruere before he could get rid of the ball and Astorga punted to the 20 yard line. Joy completed a nice pass to his wide receiver near the sideline just as he was being hit. Michael Holguin sprinted down the field on a pass pattern and tried to make a diving catch of Joy's pass. He couldn't come up with the ball but the Ram defender was called for interference.
Joy used the good field position to complete a 24 yard pass to Calzada at the 32 yard line. Then the quarterback tried to complete a long pass to Dixon but Ram defender Tristen Foley knocked the ball down. On the next play Joy was tackled for a 10 yard loss by Ram linebacker Elijah Marquez. On third and 18 Ram defender Matt Valletta knocked down Joy's pass at the line of scrimmage. When Rio Rancho regained possession of the ball Astorga ran for good yardage just shy of a first down.
The running back picked up nine yards on the next play as Rio Rancho tried to take time off of the clock by running the ball. Astorga gained nine more yards. Las Cruce's defense stiffened and stopped the run on fourth down. The Rams were going to attempt a 52 yard field goal but decided to run a play instead. The play was a 35 yard touchdown pass from Bruere to Nathan Jojola. Carlos Garcia kicked the extra point to give the Rams 42 points.
In third quarter action Joy's pass intended for Calzada who was covered by Foley was incomplete. A screen pass to Calzada went nowhere as Austin Patterson, playing as well on defense as he did on offense, moved in to make the tackle. On third and 12 Austin Patterson intercepted Joy's pass to give the ball back to Rio Rancho. A wide receiver screen pass picked up 13 yards for the Rams. Las Cruces got the ball back on the next play by recovering Astorga's fumble. The running back couldn't hold on to the ball as he was fighting for more yards.
A blitzing Ram linebacker tackled Joy for a 12 yard loss inside his own five yard line forcing the Bulldawgs to punt on fourth down. J.R. Hernandez was called for pass interference on the Ram's next play from the line of scrimmage. The penalty gave the Rams field position close enough to allow Bruere to run into the end zone on a quarterback keeper for a touchdown. The successful PAT gave Rio Rancho a 28-14 lead. During Las Cruce's next possession Granados picked up three yards on a running play. Joy was blitzed and tackled in the backfield. Calzada caught a pass from Joy and ran 22 yards.
Ram defensive back Mike Littman jumped the Bulldawg receiver's route and almost came up with an interception. On third and six Joy was sacked by Gavin Sanchez for a 10 yard loss. Las Cruces punted to Rio Rancho's six yard line. Astorga took off on a running play like a bolt of lightning, outrunning defenders and ran 94 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. Carlos Garcia's extra point made the score 35-14 in Rio Rancho's favor.
The Bulldawgs ran a sweep with wide receiver Calzada for a three yard gain. Granados ran up the middle for three more yards. Joy's pass attempt to Dixon was incomplete and Las Cruces punted the ball at the end of the third quarter. Rio Rancho scored on its first play from scrimmage in the first quarter as Astorga ran for an 87 yard touchdown. Austin Patterson flashed the brilliance he displayed throughout the game on offense and defense, making a one-handed catch for his ninth reception of the season. And in addition to his passing prowess, Bruere is averaging almost 25 yards per carry when he runs with the ball. The Ram's record is now 3-1 while the Bulldawgs are 2-1.