The Montwood Rams squared off against district 1-6A rival, Eastwood Troopers, in hopes to keep their playoff hopes alive and so they did by winning 37 to 22.
What started off as a low-scoring affair, ended up with a wild fourth quarter that featured both teams score a combined 29 points, forcing Eastwood to attempt an onside kick to keep hope alive.
The comeback attempt was denied after Rams defensive back Roman Alvarado intercepted a Mark Torres pass and returned it for touchdown that added to the lead.
Rams head coach, Chuck Veliz, wanted his team to play aggressive and not be intimidated by an Eastwood team that entered the contest with a 6-1 record.
“I knew they were going to play well they were going to play hard. To beat that team right there, they’re loaded with great athletes,” Veliz said. “Outstanding defensive effort, I just can’t say enough about the sophomore quarterback, Andrew Fernandez. He came in for the hurt, Gio Cisneros, the kid lit it up.”
Fernandez finished the night with 331 yards passing with two touchdowns and an interception and added a third touchdown on the ground.
“We lost our starting quarterback, didn’t let that faze us, just got the W,” Fernandez said. “They had trouble adjusting to us in the second half, we capitalized on it and scored.”
Montwood held the ball for most of the first half, but failed to capitalize on promising drives that resulted in two failed field goal attempts by Daneil Forzan and an interception by Fernandez inside Eastwood’s 20-yard line minutes before the half with the score in favor of the Rams, 9 to 7.
The Rams would take a two-point lead into the fourth quarter after exchanging touchdowns. It was then that Montwood would take a late 30-14 lead after defensive back intercepted an Eastwood pass on the goal line and returned it 98 yards to set up the two-yard score by running back Evan De Anda.
The Troopers would not give up that easily, cutting the Rams lead to eight with 1 minute, 11 seconds left to play. It was then that Eastwood would fail to recover an onside kick and Rams to score the final touchdown on Alvarado’s interception.
“We were going to be aggressive, kids were making adjustments on their own, we weren’t just going to be content,” Veliz said. “Other than that last drive, when we tried to kneel on the ball, was the only time we were a little conservative. We were aggressive tonight, we took our shots down the field and again, the sophomore quarterback was outstanding.”
The win helps the Rams improve to 5-3 overall and 3-2 in district, while dropping Eastwood to 6-2 and 2-2 in district play. The result now leaves the playoff picture in a scramble with Americas, Franklin, Eastwood, El Dorado and Montwood still alive in the race.
“We’re right back in the race, we have a chance get back in the race and get to the playoffs is going to be our goal,” Veliz said. “I liked my kids tonight, I always like them, but I like my team tonight, the way we played ball and we competed and it worked out well.”
Montwood has a bye before preparing for Socorro, while Eastwood takes on Socorro next Friday to continue district play.
District 1-6A Standings
Americas 5-3, 3-1
Franklin 4-4, 3-1
El Dorado 5-3, 3-1
Montwood 5-3, 3-2
Eastwood 6-2, 2-2
Coronado 2-7, 1-4
Socorro 3-5, 0-4