The Topper football team bursts out of the helmet onto Sullivan Field Friday evening to host St. Mikes Horseman. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com
Teke Nieto picks up some blocking to move the ball downfield in the first quarter. Nieto ran 127 yards in 13 carries for the night. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com
By MIKE COTE
There was no shortage of good chances for the Los Alamos Hilltopper football team’s offense Friday night at home.
Los Alamos had several short fields to work with and moved the ball effectively most of the night until it got into the red zone. All but one of those very promising drives, however, would stall short of the goal line.
The Horsemen, meanwhile, took just enough advantage of their chances to grab a 21-6 victory at Sullivan Field and hand the Hilltoppers their second straight loss.
That game was broadcast live on the Los Alamos Daily Post’s YouTube channel.
Los Alamos (2-2) was well positioned on offense throughout the night. Most of its drives started near or in St. Mike’s territory. However, Los Alamos would only hit paydirt once, late in the first half.
St. Mike’s (3-1), which lost its talented starting quarterback Lucas Coriz a week earlier to injury in a stunning loss to Santa Fe, used a committee of quarterbacks throughout its game against Los Alamos – Jacob Katko got the start, but no less than five players took an offensive snap at some point Friday night.
Both teams stayed primarily on the ground Friday night. While the Horsemen didn’t look confident throwing the football with any of their quarterbacks, the Hilltoppers’ decision to rush the ball was surprising, given the pass-heavy offense it displayed throughout their first three games.
Hilltopper quarterback Jacob Green had a rough outing a week earlier against Bernalillo, throwing 6 interceptions. Bernalillo, however, features a suffocating, once-in-a-generation secondary, perfectly built to stop an offensive attack like Los Alamos’.
Green went 8 of 15 passing Friday for 79 yards with an interception that came on a desperation pass late in the game. Green’s receivers also dropped two balls, including an apparent touchdown pass midway through the first quarter.
Los Alamos scored another apparent touchdown in the fourth quarter with the game’s outcome still in doubt, but that touchdown was called back due to a penalty near the point of attack.
Teke Nieto carried the bulk of the rushing load for Los Alamos Friday, finishing with 127 yards on 13 carries (a 9.77-yard average). Unfortunately for Los Alamos, the offense couldn’t give Nieto sufficient space in the red zone, where he struggled.
At one stretch in the second half, Los Alamos had first-and-goal from the St. Mike’s 5-yard line, then its next three possessions all started inside the Horsemen 40. None of those possessions resulted in points.
One week after being shut out, the lone Hilltopper score came with 1:27 left in the first half when Green scampered for a 5-yard touchdown to make the score 14-6 at the time.
Neither team moved the ball effectively in the second half. The Horsemen would add an insurance touchdown late in the game with Marcus Leyba scoring from 10 yards out – Leyba had 107 yards rushing to lead his team.
The Hilltopper defense was running on fumes for that final Horsemen drive after dominating the St. Michael’s offense for the rest of the second half. Zackary Schwarzkopf had a big night on defense, which included a sack in the third quarter.
This coming Friday is homecoming for the Hilltoppers. They will face the Gallup Bengals at Sullivan Field. The Bengals are winless on the season.
Nicholas Dolin pulls in a pass from Jake Green. Photo by Nate Limback/ladailypost.com
Caden Thornton fights off a St. Mike’s defender. Photo by Nate Limback/ladailypost.com
A swarm of Topper tackler’s chase down Jacob Katko in front of the Topper bench. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com
Quarterback Jacob Green keeps the ball and runs five yards for the only Topper touchdown of the game. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com
The Topper Cheerleaders motivate the crowd. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com
The Topper Marching Band performs on the field at halftime. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com