Robertson’s last gasp almost took Ruidoso’s breath away on Friday night.
With 2:31 left and the host Warriors sitting on a cozy 21-point cushion, they coughed up the ball near midfield.
Jose Estrada came up with the fumble.
With a sense of urgency fueling their game, the Cardinals got to serious marching. Nathan L’Esperance dashed 14 yards for a first down. L’Esperance soon thereafter passed to Dominic Lucero for a touchdown — only the team’s second of the night — and the Ruidoso lead was trimmed to 28-14 with 55 seconds left.
Then the Redbirds recovered an onside kick to give themselves life and a chance to get within a single touchdown.
L’Esperance extended the drive on fourth-and-long by hitting Joe Armijo on a pass to the Ruidoso 27.
But then an interception brought a quick end to the dramatics, and the Warriors held a 28-14 win.
The game was a marquee contest in Class 3A, pitting the No. 4 Warriors against the No. 6 Cardinals.
But with the exception of Robertson’s late flourish, the night belonged to Ruidoso.
Behind the deep rushing attack of Matthew Carr, Parker Johnson, Cisco Mayville and quarterback Cade Patterson, the Warriors steadily moved the chains throughout the evening.
The host team’s ground game set up a Patterson-to-Travis Mosher touchdown pass from 15 yards away, and it was 7-0 with 7:10 left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Patterson converted on fourth-and-short to keep alive a drive that finished with a TD pass to Johnson and a 14-0 lead 3:09 before intermission.
Robertson drove deep into Ruidoso territory before time ran out in the half.
Patterson and Johnson hooked up again on a 25-yard bomb that led to another TD and a 21-0 advantage in the third quarter.
The Cardinals reached as far as the Ruidoso 6 but turned the ball over on downs early in the fourth.
But Lucero scored midway through the period, making it 21-7.
Patterson retaliated with a rushing score for a 28-7 Ruidoso lead.
The Cards are 2-4 overall. Ruidoso improved to 4-1-1.
Robertson and coach Leroy Gonzalez now have a bye week, returning to action at Pojoaque in a district game.