Rams advance to Class 3A semis

Bloomfield’s Austin Lutz (42) is chased down by a quarter of Portales defenders in Saturday’s Class 3A quarterfinal game. The Rams defeated Bloomfield 20-17 in double overtime. (Farmington Daily Times: Lucas Ian Coshene)

By Mickey Winfield: Freedom Newspapers

BLOOMFIELD — Senior Ezekial (Zeke) Soto kicked the Portales Rams into the Class 3A state football semifinals Saturday afternoon with a field goal in a 20-17 double-overtime win against Bloomfield.

Soto’s 28-yard game-winner sets up a semifinal game with St. Michael’s, either Friday or Saturday, in Santa Fe.

“That was intense,” Portales senior running back Eric Segovia said moments after the game. “When we went into the double-overtime, a lot of us thought that might be it for us, but, gosh, when we made that field goal, the last 10 to 15 years of my life flashed before my eyes.”

Soto’s game-winner also put a big smile on the face of Portales first-year coach Andy Correll.

“These guys, we’ve battled it all year, they get down on themselves when we get down,” Correll said. “We were never behind, but we had to overcome a lot of adversity there in the second half. These kids rose up in that overtime, and we’re proud of ’em.”

Portales squandered a 14-0 halftime advantage, allowing the Bobcats to pull even and send the contest into an overtime period, where both teams kicked field goals.

In the second extra period, a 15-yard personal foul penalty and two incomplete passes moved Bloomfield back to the 25-yard line, where senior kicker Chris Ledbetter missed a 40-yard field goal attempt.

The Rams then began their series with a 15-yard personal foul as well, backing up the Rams to the 30-yard line. Segovia reeled off a 13-yard run before fellow senior Cruz Ontiveros picked up five yards, setting up Soto’s game-winner.

“I was a little scared,” Soto said. “My legs were shaking as soon as I saw the ball (snapped) and when the ball was down, I just had to kick it in. I was excited.”

Junior quarterback Chris Mosier led the Rams on a 14-play, 95-yard drive to start the game, capped by his own 1-yard sneak for a 7-0 lead. Those were the first points the Bloomfield defense had allowed in its last six games.

After the Portales defense forced a punt on the Bobcats’ opening, Ontiveros returned the kick 75 yards down the left sideline to give the Rams a 14-0 lead and stun the Bloomfield crowd.

The Rams’ defense dominated the first half, holding Bloomfield to just 9 total yards and not allowing a first down.

Bloomfield began the second half with an eight-play, 50-yard drive capped by a 3-yard TD run from senior running back Austin Lutz.

The Bobcats followed up that score with another to start the fourth quarter after junior Cody Cummins tossed a 45-yard halfback pass to senior receiver Richard Casaus to the Portales 3-yard line. Lutz tied the score one play later with a 2-yard run up the middle.

Correll said he was confident heading into overtime, even though Bloomfield seemed to have the momentum.

“Honestly, with the field reduced, I knew our defense could rise up, I knew we could hold them to a field goal attempt,” he said. “Offensively, we just kept shooting ourselves in the foot (with penalties).”

Portales was penalized 12 times for 95-yards.