No, that wasn’t a Homecoming bonfire you saw Friday night, although the fourth-ranked Rio Rancho High School football team was also en fuego, taking advantage of three Cougars turnovers in the first half en route to a convincing 48-13 District 1-6A victory.
Fans’ attention was drawn to the south and the towering flames, and word quickly spread — that was the Club Rio Rancho clubhouse they saw in flames.
Back to the game: Sophomore running back Zach Vigil gained 117 yards on 17 carries and scored on touchdown runs of 2 and 6 yards.
Senior quarterback Isaiah Chavez, when not handing off to Vigil — each had 55 rushing yards in the first half, which ended with the Rams (4-2) ahead, 35-7 — ran the ball in from 21 and 11 yards, both TDs coming in the first half.
And Chavez also lofted a 31-yard TD pass to Tyrese Watson, all alone in the end zone for the Rams’ third TD of the first period, and an 11-yard scoring strike to DayDay Cox for the Rams’ final score of the night, and a 48-7 lead.
With the 35-point mercy rule shortening the game in the second half, and after Chavez connected on all four of his second-half throws, Joey Cave got some snaps under center — and, after a nice run, coughed the ball up for the Rams’ lone turnover of the game.
Thus, the Rams — on a four-game winning streak after opening the season with a pair of losses— had a potent offense (5 for 5 in the red zone), a crushing defense, which included three sacks and a 46-yard “pick-6” by Jaylan Smith.
“We came out focused,” Chavez said. “We knew it was Homecoming week, so there was a lot of distractions, but we came out, executed what we wanted to do.”
There weren’t any major adjustments at halftime, he said.
“We just kept our minds set on what we wanted to do — we didn’t want another game like Centennial, obviously (the Rams coughed up a 28-point lead in the second half and lost to the Hawks) — so we just kept our momentum and we kept it going.”
It was the 22nd meeting between the Rams and the Cougars (3-3, 0-1), and the sixth year in a row the Rams have beaten them.