LOMETA — Lometa coach Jim Simpson laughed as his players did celebratory mudslides on their soaked field.
The squad had beaten Cherokee 60-6 in a six-man contest, forcing the refs to invoke the halftime 45-point mercy rule.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the guys,” Simpson said. “They played with heart. Excellent job tonight.”
Cherokee (0-4) struck first with a 36-yard touchdown pass from Jorge Arredondo to Uriel Alvarado, capping a five-play drive with 1:36 left in the first quarter.
Then, six Hornets stung the Indians for nine straight touchdowns, ending the game after 20 clocked minutes.
R.J. Haggard immediately answered the Indians’ only score with an untouched 41-yard sprint to the end zone.
The Hornets’ momentum rolled into the second quarter, as David Towerton fell on an Arredondo fumble at Lometa’s 10 yard line.
Four plays later, Haggard scurried left, waited, then zoomed past blocked defenders for a 55-yard touchdown.
Two Arredondo passes on the ensuing drive put the Indians on Lometa’s 21. But the next pass bounced off Jordan Lilly’s hands and into Jaime De Luna’s, putting the Hornet offense on its own 3.
Then, Pedro De Luna ran an unchallenged 77 yards to the house.
On Cherokee’s next drive, sophomore Kyle Molter scooped an Arredondo fumble at Cherokee’s 29, and sprinted clear for the score. Lometa led 27-6 with 7:11 left in the half.
On the next Cherokee drive, Jaime De Luna stepped forward in double coverage, grabbed an underthrown Arredondo pass, and burned six would-be tacklers for a 77-yard score.
“When I saw the ball in the air, I just knew that it was going to be an interception,” Jaime De Luna said. “And I didn’t know that I was going to make (the touchdown), but I was really excited. When I got the ball, I didn’t think about anything. I just ran.”
Then Ty Pauly joined the party, returning an interception 16 yards to put his team’s offense on Cherokee’s 15.
The next play saw Eric Nichols run untouched down the right side for a touchdown.
Cherokee’s next drive stopped on a 4th down incompletion at Lometa’s 14.
Nichols then added 62 yards on two runs to bring Lometa to Cherokee’s 4.
On the next play, Nichols fumbled, scooped, scampered toward an aggressive swarm of defenders, and shoveled the ball to Ricardo Acevedo for a 4-yard touchdown. The Hornets led 48-6 with 1:04 left in the half.
Connell Barnett pounced on the ensuing onside kick at Cherokee’s 31.
An ensuing 26-yard Barnett run set up a 4-yard Acevedo right toss touchdown.
Trailing 54-6 with 26 seconds left in the half, the Indians needed to quickly score to extend the game.
Barnett thought differently.
At his own 31, he snagged an interception, sprinted to the right side, tore down the sideline and carried would-be tacklers into the end zone to close the game.
“We just executed on all cylinders tonight,” Simpson said. “Very good team effort.”