Rio Rancho’s Zach Vigil is hoisted by lineman Darrius Gregory after one of his three touchdowns March 13 in Santa Fe.
Photo Gary Herron

SANTA FE — Junior running back Zach Vigil scored three times and quarterback Joey Cave scored twice as the Rams easily won the long-awaited debut of head coach Gerard Pannoni, 57-6, over Santa Fe last Saturday.

Pannoni, by the way, was the only person at Ivan Head Stadium wearing shorts, and no cap, on a chilly, windy afternoon; about 225 Rams fans bundled up in the bleachers.

Running an efficient, no-huddle offense, the Rams had enough points less than three minutes into the game to beat the Demons for the seventh time in as many meetings. Vigil caught a 7-yard scoring pass from Cave, and Elijah Smith ran the ball in for an 8-0 lead. Vigil’s TD capped a nine-play, 72-yard drive after the Rams took the opening kickoff.

Cave scored from the 3 and Vigil took it in from the 6 as the Rams led 21-0 at the end of the first quarter. Those were, respectively, a 52- and a 49-yard drive, each of only seven plays.

Right after Lucas Lucero thwarted the Demons’ lone first-half visit to the red zone with an interception at the 6, three plays later Cave tossed a short pass to Smith, and he hauled it 66 yards to help the Rams pad their lead to 28-0. That was the longest drive of the game (93 yards) and took just three plays.

Vigil went in from the 5 midway through the second quarter — his lone carry on the second half — as the Rams took a 35-0 lead on that seven-play, 55-yard drive and started the running clock.

After a Demons fumble on their first possession of the second half, Cave carried the ball around the right side on the next play for an 11-yard TD run. Zach Benedict added his fourth point-after, as he was 5-for-5 on PATs for a 42-0 Rams lead.

Lucero then blocked a Demons punt that bounced out of the end zone to make it 44-0.

The Demons spoiled the shutout bid when Martell Mann scored on a 3-yard run, following the Rams’ lone turnover of the game, an interception thrown by back-up QB Dominick Priddy.

Fabiano Valdez scored on an 11-yard fumble return seven seconds into the fourth quarter, and Priddy ended the game with 3:42 showing on the clock on a 9-yard run, capping a nine-play, 55-yard drive.

Vigil finished with 88 yards on 11 carries; Cave ran for 60 yards on 10 carries and was 9-of-14 passing for 150 yards.

The Rams’ punishing defense knocked SFHS starting QB Luc Jaramillo out of the game on the first play of the third quarter and limited the Demons to 16 rushing yards and 26 passing yards — none after Jaramillo’s exit.

“The kids did play with high energy, and I liked the effort,” Pannoni said. “The goal is to take each week, one at a time, and get better every day. We need to continue to be efficient on offense.

“Defensively, we have to clean up some alignment/assignment issues.”