It was a dark and stormy night… No, that was Saturday evening when the Topper boys’ soccer team was scheduled to play Roswell for the championship of the Louie Cernicek memorial soccer tournament.
Friday night the weather was chilly, but the Topper football team was hot and in midseason form as they thoroughly routed the visiting Pojoaque Elks by a score of 63-24. The Toppers started the game outnumbered on sidelines where Pojoaque suited up 45 varsity players to the Toppers 24, some of whom were not even in pads because of injuries. The Toppers were led by senior quarterback Nicholas Quartieri who ran or passed for 6 touchdowns! On defense, senior inside linebacker Josef Sorenson led the Toppers and went toe-to-toe with the Elks 220-pound running back, Nathaniel Manges.
Quartieri got the scoring going with a 12-yard run with 5:21 left in the first quarter. The 25-yard drive was set up when Pojoaque’s Ben Lujan was tackled by Sorenson and fumbled a Topper punt at the Elks’ 25-yeard line. Travis Gonzales’ extra point kick made the score 7-0. With 2:33 remaining in the first quarter Quartieri capped a 52-yard drive with a 6-yeard touchdown run. He then ran 3 yards for a 2-point conversion making the score 15-0.
The Toppers scored again at the 10:16 mark in the second period on a 78-yard drive that started with the recovery of a Pojoaque fumble. Quartieri went in from the Elk’s 23-yeard line for the score. Gonzales’ extra point made the score 22-0. Then it was turn for a Topper miscue as the Elks returned a mishandled Topper pitch to the LA 12-yard line and Daniel Rael went in for the Pojoaque score. They failed the try-for-point making the score 22-6 in the Toppers’ favor. The Toppers came right back with a 56-yrad drive culminating with a 4-yard touchdown run by sophomore Dylan Irish. Quartieri ran for the 2-point conversion making the score 30-6. Then another Topper fumble was picked up by the Elks and returned to the Toppers’ 1-yard line where Manges went in for the TD making the score 30-12 at halftime.
The Toppers began the second half with a 71-yard drive ending with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Quartieri to Gonzales. Gonzales’ extra point made the score 37-12. The Toppers forced the Elks to punt from their own 23-yard line on the ensuing series. A bad snap had the Elks’ punter scrambling. He did manage to kick the ball but right to Sorenson who powered in 20 yards for the next Topper touchdown! The extra point was wide right leaving the score 43-12 at the 6:03 mark in the third period.
This was followed by the Elks’ best drive of the day as they went 70 yards scoring from 29-yards out on a fourth and 18 pass the Rael to Martinez making the score 43-18. The Elks’ kickoff was taken by Kevin Maresca at about the 20 yard line and he followed great blocking up the middle until about midfield where he cut to the right and went all the way for the Topper’s seventh touchdown! Gonzales’ extra point made the score 50-18.
Following their kickoff Topper Coach Williams began clearing what little bench he had. Then the Elks went 68 yards for a touchdown making the score 50-24. The Elks tried an onside kick, but Arturo Rodriguez, a tackle, snared the ball at the 44-yrad line securing Topper possession. The Toppers then went on a 5-minute, 56 yarddrive for a touchdown. Quartieri scored on a 2-yard run. The extra point made the score 57-24. This drive and the try-for-point marked the beginning of a loss of discipline by some Elk players as they were flagged by the Santa Fe officiating crew with two personal fouls.
The final Topper score came on a short 33-yard drive after the Elks failed to convert on fourth down. Quartieri’s 6-yard run made the score 63-24. This drive was marked by more personal fouls by the Pojoaque players. Three Elks were ejected from the game. In the press box the Elks’ coach echoed the players’ immaturity by slamming the door with rattling effect as he stormed out.
The 39-point lead triggered the “mercy rule” and a running clock. After the Topper kickoff the Elks drove to their own 49-yard line where Dylan Irish intercepted a pass and went for a “pick six” touchdown. The touchdown was disallowed because of an unsportsman-like conduct flag on the Toppers.
Next Friday the Toppers play Moriarty at Moriarty.