Still, these are competitive athletes, and winning that one last game is pretty fun, too.
The South 1A-six man all stars had the most fun they ever have losing a one-point game Saturday, as quarterback Mason Miller of Gateway Christian couldn’t come up with the one extra yard needed to keep the South’s comeback alive.
“I want to say I made that last yard,” Miller said with a smile after the game. “But what the ref says goes.”
Saturday’s contest at Wilson Stadium was the type of close affair both sides expected out of athletes of this caliber. At least that’s how South coach Dickie Roybal sees it.
“We had a great time this week, and it was an honor to coach them,” said the Melrose coach. “We knew it would be close with their size. We just had to spread them out. The game could have gone either way.”
Three area athletes participated – Capitan’s Tyler Neill and Garrett Schultz, and Mescalero’s Godfrey Cordova, Jr. All three were called on for special teams duties, while Neill spent a majority of the game on defense as a linebacker.
Neill did a good job at the position – recording a pair of tackles for a loss – despite never having played linebacker before. He was Capitan’s starting running back this year, but touched the ball only twice on offense.
“After the first hit in drills this week, right away they knew I was going to be linebacker,” Neill said. “Still, it felt good, being my first game at linebacker. I like offense a little better, but you’ve got to have defense to win games.”
The game was scoreless until the South All-Stars were able to get on the board with 34 seconds left in the first quarter on a 2-yard run by Melrose’s Lance Widner, but the North responded with an 80-yard drive that was capped by a four-yard punch-in by Fort Sumner’s Skylar McMath to tie the game at 6-all.
The North made up most of their yards on that drive thanks to the arm of Fort Sumner graduate Kolter West, who finished the game with 113 yards on nine completions.
But it was Miller who had the best night throwing, putting together 180 yards on seven completions, including an 88-yard strike to Hunter Layton of Mesilla Valley to give the South the lead with 6:09 left in the first half.
Most of that play was due to Layton’s ability to evade tackles, and Anthony Torres’ point after kick was good to make it 13-7.
Torres’ kick was the only successful PAT kick on the night, the only other PAT scored was by McMath for the north on a run in following an 18-yard touchdown pass from West to Springer’s Leonard Arias with 2:32 left in the first half.
That one-point difference would come back to haunt the South in the end, as would an interception of Miller by West near the end of the second quarter at midfield.
Had the South been able to score on that drive, they would have entered the locker room with a lead and might have had the momentum for the rest of the game.
Neither team had much momentum in the second half, as the ball changed sides twice before the North was able to increase its lead on a short touchdown run by West that was set up by a 27-yard ramble by McCurdy’s Eric Vigil.
The South responded with a 76-yard drive which culminated in an 8-yard touchdown by Miller with 9:21 left in the game. Coach Roybal elected to go for two and the lead, but the run failed.
“We should have kicked it, maybe. But it’s the all-star game, and you have to go for the win,” Roybal said. “Kicking it is one of those things you have to do all year long, and some of these guys hadn’t done it since November.”
Now down by one, the South had to keep the North from scoring and get the ball back for a final, game winning drive.
They almost got it, as Miller led the team down to the North’s 32-yard line. But on a fourth-and-3 play, Miller was shoved out of bounds a yard shy of the first-down marker with under a minute left.
All the North had to do was get a couple of first downs to secure the win.
North 20, South 19
South 6 7 0 6 – 19
North 0 14 6 0 – 20 First Quarter
S – Lance Widner 2 run (kick fail), :34
N – Skylar McMath 4 run (kick fail), 7:11
S – Hunter Layton 88 pass from Mason Miller (Anthony Torres kick), 6:09
N – Leonard Arias 18 pass from Kolter West (McMath run), 2:32
N – K.West 1 run (kick fail), 2:59
S – Miller 8 run (run fail), 9:21
First downs 11 17
Rushes-yards 29-112 37-148
Passing yards 180 113
Att-comp-int 15-7-1 20-9-0
Total yards 292 261
Punts-avg. 1-56 4-32.8
Fumbles-lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 7-70 2-20
Rushing: S – Widner 6-36, Anderson Malik 5-35, Miller 15-34, Layton 1-4, Tyler Neill 2-3. N – McMath 13-54, Carlos Herrera 8-48, K.West 13-37, Adam West 2-6, Tanner Sorrels 1-3.
Passing: S – Miller 15-7-1, 180. N – K.West 20-9-0, 113.
Receiving: S – Layton 3- 102, Torres 1-33, Jake Franzoy 1-22, Neill 1-16, Anderson 1-7. N – Colton Strand 1-33, Dennis Smatana 3-31, McMath 2-24, Arias 1-18, Sorrels 1-4, Andrew Aguilera 1-3.