ALBUQUERQUE — The visiting Rio Rancho Rams scored first and scored last at Wilson Stadium last Friday night, but it was host La Cueva’s five touchdowns between those Ram scores that made the difference.
Former Rio Rancho resident Cam Dyer threw two touchdown passes and ran for TDs on rushes of 3, 1 and 12 yards in his team’s 35-14 victory.
The Rams, who had been 5-0 in previous games played vs. La Cueva at Wilson Stadium, scored on the game’s opening possession. It was a 10-play, 78-yard drive, capped by senior quarterback Noah Nelson’s 20-yard scoring run. Bryson Strohecker added the point-after, and the season seemed off to a good start.
Except that the Rams didn’t score again until 3:40 was left in the game, and when Rayce Ramirez scored on that 2-yard TD run, with Strohecker adding the PAT, they were down 35-14.
The Bears, who play the City of Vison’s other squad, Cleveland, Friday night, were dynamic on offense, led by Dyer, and limited the Rams to three red zone visits. RRHS got as far as the Bears’ 25 with less than four minutes to go in the second quarter, but a fourth-down pass went incomplete.
Near the end of the third quarter, the Rams’ second red-zone visit resulted in an incomplete toss into the end zone on fourth down.
Junior JJ Arellano relieved Nelson on the Rams’ final possession of the game, getting five snaps and turning the final one into a handoff to Ramirez for a 1-yard TD run. After going 1 for 5 on third down in the first half, that final drive marked the Rams’ lone third-down conversion in five attempts in the second half.
Nelson led the offense with 99 rushing yards and Ramirez chipped in with 19 carries for 91 yards, but the Rams amassed only 54 passing yards – and none in the second half. Nelson was 0 for 9 in the second half, with one pick; Arellano handed the ball to Ramirez four times and ran it once for 10 yards.
“Offensively, I don’t know what we ran for – we ran the ball well,” said coach Nate Pino. “We didn’t connect on enough passes.
“They’re good. They were mixing it up a bit more on defense than they have in the past,” Pino said of the Bears. “We missed some easy throws. It’s that plain and simple. The balance has to be there; we have to do a better job throwing the football.”
Only trailing 21-7 at intermission, Pino said his message was simple: “We said we’re going to get a stop and we’re going to go down and score. We got the stop, and then we turned it back over.” (Those plays were the back-to-back interceptions.)
“We’re going to watch film. We’ve just got to execute,” Pino said. “Defensively, on third down we didn’t do a good job.”
Dyer, he added, “Is a good football player. He’s a good kid, too.” Former Bears QB Aiden Armenta is now in the UNM Lobos’ quarterback room.
RAMifications: The Rams will try to get back on the winning track Friday in their home opener vs. Eldorado. The Eagles and Rams have a fairly long history, as this will be the teams’ 15th meeting. RRHS has won four of the last five, including a 64-43 rout in the 2014 state semifinal and 34-17 last season at Wilson Stadium. Eldorado beat Cibola 41-20 last Friday.