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Saturday, May 18, 2024

‘Dogs get train back on tracks

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Artesia boys dominate Rockets at Bowl, 54-14, in first D4 win

Competing on their home turf for the first time in a month, the Bulldogs needed a deep, cleansing breath. Their last regular-season outing on the road in Santa Teresa had ended at the half. Then came the open date, followed by The Game Which Shall Not Be Mentioned last week in Roswell.

It was a night for regrouping and refocusing, and what better place than before the Sea of Orange in a longtime rivalry game. The mission was to get back to business, and the ‘Dogs completed it, topping the Goddard Rockets by a final of 54-14 to log their first District 4-AAAAA win.

“There are still a lot of little things that we’ve got to fix, but we remembered we had a game this week, and that was good,” head coach Jeremy Maupin said Saturday.

In stark contrast to their last outing, few things the Bulldogs attempted Friday didn’t succeed. Apart from a first-quarter fumble and a turnover on downs late in the game, Artesia converted each of its offensive series into points. The starting defense held the Rockets scoreless while forcing five turnovers.

The ‘Dogs compiled 347 yards of offense on the evening to Goddard’s 181 amidst an all-around dominant performance that improved Artesia’s record to 8-1 on the season, 1-1 in district play as the Rockets dropped to 6-3, 1-1.

The boys in orange wasted no time getting the ball rolling, moving downfield with equal ease between the rushing and passing games. Eight plays later, they’d hit the end zone on a 17-yard pass from quarterback Nye Estrada to Izac Cazares, going up 6-0 following a failed conversion attempt.

Goddard threw a wide variety of runners at the Orange Crush in their inaugural drive, but their first attempt to air it out was immediately snatched out of the air by Bulldog corner Phillip Finley, who set the offense back up at the Rocket 17 following a 29-yard return.

The ‘Dogs needed just two plays to score from there on a 17-yard end around by Ethan Conn with 4:33 to go in the first quarter. They’d be back in the end zone three minutes later when — following a Rocket three and out — Estrada converted on fourth and 20 with a 31-yard pass to Conn and the two connected again for a six-yard score. Estrada hit Cazares for the conversion to put Artesia up 20-0.

Finley interrupted another Goddard possession with a pick at the Rocket 39 in the waning seconds of the first, but Artesia would return the favor just before the second quarter began on a fumble near the Goddard 40.

The Crush would once again force a punt, however, and the ‘Dogs took a 28-0 lead on a 16-yard pass from Estrada to Conn and conversion run by Diego Lopez.

Finley would force the Rockets to abandon their passing game for the remainder of the half with a third interception at the Rocket 28, ultimately setting up a four-yard touchdown run by Conn at the 3:43 mark. And after safety Jesse Armendariz forced a Goddard fumble that was recovered at the 17 by Grant Johnson on the first play of their next drive, the Bulldogs would take a 41-0 advantage in at the break on a 17-yard screen from Estrada to Frankie Galindo.

The second half wouldn’t begin much better for the Rockets, as Johnson took a turn causing a fumble that was snagged by Kaden Grantham and Artesia needed just five plays to expand their lead by seven on a seven-yard run by Galindo and Finley PAT.

With the 35-point mercy-rule clock in motion and the Bulldog back-ups moving into the fray, Goddard carried its next series into the fourth quarter and, eventually, over the goal line. Turning things over to the legs of replacement QB Deshon Young, the Rockets marched from their own 29 to the Artesia 18 on 13 plays before Young found Josiah Castillo open in the end zone from 11 yards out to make it 48-7.

After an Artesia turnover on downs, Young would lead Goddard to paydirt once again, topping off an eight-play, 72-yard march with a three-yard touchdown run with 1:11 remaining in the ballgame.

With sophomore quarterback Derrick Warren in the backfield and sophomore RB Bryce Parra beside him, the Bulldogs set about running out the remainder of the clock. But Parra would find open field in front of him on second and 20 from the Bulldog 23 and rounded out the 54-14 final with a 77-yard touchdown run with eight seconds to go.

Parra finished with 67 yards on two carries, while Galindo was 7-57 rushing and 2-24 receiving. Estrada closed out a little-over-two-quarter effort 14 of 22 for 198 yards and four TDs, while Cazares led the receiving corps with 111 yards on seven catches and Conn went 5-62.

“Offensively, I thought we just had a bounce-back game,” said Maupin. “I thought we were able to run the ball when we needed to, and Nye had six touchdown passes counting those little toss passes we run. Ethan came back after not having a good game against Roswell and played well. Izac Cazares just gets stronger and stronger each week, and Frankie also had another good game for us.

“Defensively, we created five turnovers, which is always good. Goddard tends to lull you to sleep because they just run left, run right, run left, run right and then try to take a deep shot, and a lot of times, they’re just throwing to a wide-open guy. But Phillip did a good job of coming from that back side corner spot and kind of recognizing their tight end leaking in and was able to get in front of the ball.”

The Big ‘Dog offensive line was without the services of both Rickey Armendariz and Carson Troost for the majority of the night, but Maupin was pleased overall with the performance of those athletes called upon to step in, as well as the second- and third-stringers who saw a good chunk of playing time in the second half.

“We were down to literally some of our third-string linemen, but I thought they really held their own,” said the coach. “Some of our mistakes came from being without Rickey and Carson, but that was kind of to be expected. I also thought we got downfield on kickoff really well, and we nearly had a punt block, so we kind of dominated in all three phases of the game.

“We also got to play a lot of guys, which is always a blessing — a lot of those young sophomores or seniors and juniors that don’t play as much got to play, so we were able to see where they’re at. It was just a good night, and it was good to be back at home.”

The Bulldogs will now prepare to close out their second season, once again at the Bowl, at 7 p.m. Friday versus Mayfield. The Trojans are currently 4-5, 0-2 after falling to Roswell High Friday at Wool Bowl, 48-15.

“We should be coming out healthier this week, so we’re just going to do what we need to do to get ready for Mayfield,” said Maupin.

FIRST QUARTER

Artesia- Izac Cazares 17-pass from Nye Estrada (run failed), 9:28 Artesia- Ethan Conn 17-run (kick failed), 4:33 Artesia- Conn 6-pass from Estrada (Estrada to Cazares pass good), 1:16

SECOND QUARTER

Artesia- Conn 16-pass from Estrada (Diego Lopez run good), 7:01 Artesia- Conn 4-run (kick failed), 3:43 Artesia- Frankie Galindo 17-pass from Estrada (Phillip Finley kick good), 3:00

THIRD QUARTER

Artesia- Galindo 7-run (Finley kick good), 7:31

FOURTH QUARTER

Goddard- Josiah Castillo 11-pass from Deshon Young (Wyatt Northcutt kick good), 9:26 Goddard- Young 3-run (Northcutt kick good), 1:11 Artesia- Bryce Parra 77-run (kick blocked), :08

RUSHING

Artesia- Parra 2-67; Galindo 7-57; Conn 2-21; Cazares 3-17; Lopez 1-4; Estrada 1-(-17) Goddard- Young 11-57; Jon Silva 13-42; Nathan Reed 8-28; Taylen Payne 4-10; Xavier Perez 2-10; Castillo 1-2; Dominic Ramirez 6-1

PASSING

Artesia- Estrada 14-22-198-4-0; Cazares 1-1-0-0-0 Goddard- Ramirez 1-6-(-2)-0-3; Young 2-2-33-1-0

RECEIVING

Artesia- Cazares 7-111; Conn 5-62; Galindo 2-24; Juan Diego Duran 1-8; Lopez 1-0 Goddard- Castillo 2-16; Silva 1-15

1D

Artesia 10; Goddard 15

PEN

Artesia 6-40; Goddard 8-71

TO

Artesia 1; Goddard 5

RUSH

Artesia 149; Goddard 150

PASS

Artesia 198; Goddard 31

TOTAL

Artesia 347; Goddard 181

Brienne Green
Daily Press Editor

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