It turns out that Rio Rancho’s 50-0 rout of La Cueva on Aug. 27 at Wilson Stadium wasn’t a fluke after all.
The score, maybe; not the outcome.
In the teams’ latest meeting, at Rio Rancho Stadium, the No. 2 Rams (9-1) beat the No. 3 Bears (10-2) again, this time 35-34 in double-overtime Friday night.
With the chilling-but-thrilling contest, the Rams punched their ticket to the state championship game.
The Rams get another shot at their city foe Saturday at 1 p.m. at Thunderbolt Stadium.
A sub-plot Friday was the way the Rams defense played, and let’s look at the Bears’ first offensive play went and how their final snap went:
• On the first play from scrimmage, Gabriel Buie took a handoff and cut to the west sideline, racing 72 yards for what became a 7-0 lead.
• On the last play of the game, Bears quarterback Aidan Armenta scrambled as he was pursued by a tenacious bunch of defenders and came nowhere near to completing a pass and getting a teammate into the end zone for a 2-point conversion.
The Rams’ defense made key stops all night, and both teams missed field goals along the way — and the Rams’ senior kicker, Bailey Siverts, just missed what would have been a game-winning 40-yard field goal immediately following a fair catch by a teammate. It’s possible nobody in the stadium had ever seen that play, but RRHS coach Gerry Pannoni said his team practices that — fair catch and free kick — every Thursday.
After that failed, the game soon went into overtime.
After the Bears scored, Rams QB Dominick Priddy tossed a pass to Javas Maria and Siverts tied it with a PAT.
Traiven Williams caught a pass and barely kept it in-bounds at the end line, again from Priddy; Siverts’ PAT made it 35-28.
The Bears needed just two plays to make it 35-34, and decided to go for two points.
That’s when the Rams’ D ended it, putting their team into the championship game.
The Rams’ offense took a hit when standout senior running back Zach Vigil suffered an apparent rib injury in the first half, and the “next man up,” Devin Rice, answered the call.
His 12-yard rushing TD, late in the third quarter and with the Rams down by two touchdowns, followed by a recovered onside kick by Nick Baca, led to the game-tying TD on a 6-yard sprint by Priddy with 22.6 seconds left in the third period.
After a scoreless fourth quarter, OT kicked in.
“At halftime, we had to get our minds right,” Priddy said. “We came into this game playing not to lose, and we needed to come in there and play to win. It was as simple as that.”
“Offense, we came out a little slow, but defense did their job — they stepped up whenever they needed to.”
Priddy didn’t have gaudy numbers passing, but his legs got him into the end zone for the Rams’ first TD, on a 1-yard run — and the Rams trailed 21-7 after the Bears scored their final TD in regulation with 1.2 ticks until halftime.
Rice, by the way, finished with 97 yards on 22 carries.

                                       Rams QB Dominick Priddy

    Rams’ “Next man up,” Devin Rice


Meanwhile, at the Field of Dreams in Las Cruces Friday night …

No. 1 Cleveland rolled up 374 yards of total offense in the first half alone, scored 35 of the game’s first 42 points and advanced to the Class 6A state championship football game Friday night with a 42-24 victory over No. 5 Las Cruces at the Field of Dreams.
The Storm (12-0) advanced to the state final for the fifth time, after appearances in 2011, 2015, 2018 and 2019.
Cleveland scored on its first four possessions Friday night against the Bulldawgs (7-5).
Lucious Dickson’s 9-yard run capped an eight-play, 70-yard drive to open the game. On the next drive, quarterback Evan Wysong went over the top, 74 yards to Nic Trujillo to make it 14-0 just five minutes into the game.
At 14-7, Cleveland scored the next 21 points, with Wysong scoring on a 6-yard run, then Wysong throwing a 21-yard TD pass on fourth-and-goal to Trujillo, and finally Ethan Duran catching a 70-yard TD pass from Wysong.
Las Cruces did at one point score 17 straight points to get within 11 at 35-24 in the third quarter, but Wysong supplied the clincher, with a 1-yard sneak early in the fourth quarter.
                                         —James Yodice, Albuquerque Journal