It had the makings of a blowout but never quite got there.
No matter; the Robertson Cardinals are District 2-3A football champions after Friday night’s 18-7 win at Taos, the No. 7 team in Class 3A.
Robertson (5-4 overall, 3-0 district) closes the regular season this Friday at West Las Vegas.
The Cardinals’ prolific rushing offense showed up again in Taos, but so did a less-welcome regular this season — the team’s penchant for incurring costly penalties. The former directly resulted in three big Robertson touchdowns. The latter kept perhaps three others from being scored.
The Redbird defense shined on Friday, forcing turnovers and allowing few extended drives by the Tigers.
A fumble recovery by RHS on the Taos 8-yard line led to Dominic Lucero’s touchdown run from that same spot with 2:11 left in the first period.
The Cards collected two fumble recoveries and two interceptions in the first half alone, but offensive penalties and three RHS turnovers helped prevent any other scores. It was 6-0 at halftime.
Taos’ lone scoring drive was fueled by two 15-yard penalties and a critical conversion on fourth-and-short to reach the RHS 27.
Alejandro Tavarez punched into the end zone from along the goal line with 2:18 left in the quarter, and Jacob Pacheco’s extra point gave the Tigers a 7-6 edge.
Whatever ugliness had mucked up the game to that point, it was clutch play by the young visitors that dictated the final period and the outcome.
Robertson fumbled the ball away early in the fourth quarter, but the defense held strong to force a punt. On the next series, Lucero took advantage of good field position, bounding 33 yards to paydirt for the go-ahead touchdown. A two-point conversion failed, and it stayed 12-7 Cardinals.
Devin Chavez alertly picked off a Tavarez pass on the next series, and RHS took over at the Taos 42.
The drive concluded with James Gonzales’ 3-yard touchdown run and an 18-7 advantage with 4:22 left.
Taos completed some key passes but the drive ended on downs near midfield as the Cardinal defense again held. Lucero picked up a huge first down on the last series, allowing the clock to wind down.