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But Rattlers spoil Dons’ debut under the lights

By Dave Kavanaugh

Almost everyone present at the Herrera Complex for Friday night’s West Las Vegas-Tucumcari football game was mindful of the significance of the moment.

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Everyone, from members of the chain gang on the sidelines to the casual fan in the stands to the booming public address voice of James Esquibel, was chattering about the same thing — West playing its first-ever varsity football game under the lights at the facility.

The Tucumcari Rattlers weren’t paying attention, however.

Ranked among the top teams in Class 2A, the Rattlers took advantage of several West Las Vegas miscues en route to a 55-6 defeat of the Dons (0-3).

With quarterback Luke Smith at the controls, Tucumcari rushed the ball well through Zac Hurd and Dylan and Smith himself.

West didn’t do itself any favors in the turnover department, either. The Dons coughed up the ball several times via both fumbles and interceptions, giving Tucumcari too many opportunities to score while limiting their own.

Returning Dons starter Nathan Vigil, who had originally been slated to split quarterbacking duties with Jose Juan Montaño, is out with an injury. That left Montaño, who has good size and athletic ability but limited experience under center, to shoulder the load himself.

Montaño did bolt downfield for yardage on QB keeper plays, and others like Jake Ulibarri and Adrian Valdez made some plays for the Dons.

Lucas Rodriguez, who plays a key dual role as a back on offense and a middle linebacker on defense, also was a workhorse.

After spotting Tucumcari a touchdown, the Dons answered with a strong series to cut the lead to 7-6.

But after that, it was all Rattlers, who led 28-6 at halftime.

WLV first-year head coach Robert Alarcon knew his team had a tough one on its hands coming in. Tucumcari already owns big wins over Raton and New Mexico Military.

This week West hosts Ruidoso for homecoming. The Warriors don’t look too easy, having blasted Hot Springs 35-13.