When Josh Thomas wasn’t scoring long touchdowns for Estancia High School, then you could count on Andrew Lujan doing so.
Behind a dominate performance from the Bears’ offensive line, the two combined for eight rushing scores in Estancia’s 63-12 home quarterfinal win Nov. 9 over Escalante in the Class 2A state playoffs.
Thomas rushed for a game-high 384 yards and five touchdowns on 10 carries. He also caught the game’s opening score on a 74-yard touchdown reception.
Then there was Lujan, who’s stat sheet turned out not too shabby, but still got overlooked by the video game-type numbers from Thomas. Lujan finished with 147 yards rushing and three scores on five carries.
“We were just hopeless on defense,” Escalante head coach Dusty Giles said. “They totally dominated us in the trenches tonight and that’s where you win football games.”
As the final score would suggest, Estancia scored early and often, mostly with explosive, long plays, which helped them extend their lead to 45 points at halftime with the score at 57-12.
With the 50-point mercy rule in their sights, Estancia linebacker Cruz Moreno was hoping the game would be over at halftime.
“We got to end this by halftime, so I can finish my essay,” the senior said on the sidelines with about three minutes remaining.
The game would go to the third quarter, but Moreno wouldn’t have to wait long to get to writing, as Thomas broke away for an 89-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage in the second half to officially end the night.
The game was a rematch from week 3, when Estancia won 46-6 — also at home — to drop Escalante to 1-2 on the season on a night where the Lobos’ offense was held to -5 total yards of offense.
In the second go-round, Escalante moved the ball more successfully, but still only gained 118 total yards in which 98 of came on the ground. The Lobos picked up rushing touchdowns from senior quarterback Esteban Archuleta and sophomore running back Dante Salazar.
“On offense, I thought we did some things that went pretty good for us,” Giles said. “Our scheme was solid, but we shot ourselves in the foot early and after that, it was hard to get that mental side back where we needed to be, especially on defense.”
After going down 7-0, Escalante responded with a long kick return by A.J. Blea to set up shop at the Estancia 35-yard line. The drive would, however, go backwards after a holding call negated a long run by Anthony Ulibarri.
Things only got worse a play later when Archuleta mishandled the snap and got crushed in the backfield to push the line of scrimmage back to the 49 of the Lobos. Two plays later, with the Escalante in the punt formation, Blea mishandled the long snap and got tackled in the backfield to hand over possession to the Bears at their own 47-yard line.
On the next play, Lujan scampered for a 53-yard touchdown run to increase the lead to 14-0. Estancia would go on to lead 28-0 before the Lobos finally got on the board.
Escalante found themselves on the opposite end of the spectrum after their 56-6 first found blowout of Capitan, which was the team’s eighth consecutive win after the week 3 loss to Estancia.
The seniors of the team in Archuleta, Blea, Ulibarri, Randy Ferrell and Dominic Cordova exit the program in a fashion they would like to forget, but Giles said the group will be remembered for the hard work they put in over the entire four years.
“We got a deep tradition of hard work in our football program and this group (of seniors) is no different,” Giles said. “You hate for those guys to have it like this when it’s your last one and it doesn’t go the right way, but they’ve learned a lot of life lessons and I think they will have a lot of fond memories of their playing days with the Lobos.”