“Benito would have been proud of you guys.”
That’s how a public address announcer at Cardinal Stadium congratulated the Robertson football team — 41-0 winners over Cobre — as it left the field Saturday afternoon.
Playing in honor of the late Benito Lemos — a member of Robertson’s first-ever state championship team — the Cardinals scored 34 points in the second half to transform a defensive nailbiter into a rout.
RHS (8-3) moves on to the Class 3A state quarterfinals and a rematch with No. 3 Socorro at 2 p.m. this coming Saturday in Warrior Country. Robertson beat the Warriors 20-13 on Oct. 16; that game also took place in Socorro.
Defense dominated in the first half Saturday; after Robertson scored on its game-opening drive, neither team could sustain an offensive series.
RHS quarterback Daniel Martinez scored on a 1-yard run that had been set up by his 38-yard pass to Fabian Montoya, followed by a 5-yard run to the goal line by Johnathan Lucero. Keen Martinez’s extra point made it 7-0 with 10:20 left in the first quarter.
After that, both sides got stingy. Three and out, punt. Three and out, punt. Three and out, punt. Robertson managed one first down on another Martinez-to-Montoya pass before having to punt late in the quarter.
Looking to break the cycle, the Indians tried a fake punt midway through the second period, but the Cardinals stopped them well shy of the first-down marker.
Robertson tried the same tactic, turning the ball over on downs at the Cobre 47.
At halftime, it was still 7-0.
Fittingly, it was defensive plays that generated points to start the second half.
David Coca picked off Tre Sanchiz’s pass and ran it back 42 yards for a touchdown, and RHS led 14-0 at the 11:05 mark.
Then on the ensuing Cobre drive, John Pino intercepted Sanchiz at the Cardinal 11, stuffing what had been the Indians’ most promising possession.
In the third quarter, Martinez found Dalan Abreu on a slot route over the middle, and Abreu slashed away from traffic to the east sideline, racing for a 78-yard touchdown. With 9:01 left in the period, the Cards led 21-0.
Martinez and Abreu hooked up again, this time on a 17-yard TD pass, with 14 seconds left in the third.
Martinez, who blew past the 1,000-yard rushing mark with another game rushing for more than 100 yards, had his longest jaunt of the year after a play that was nearly botched.
The RHS junior scooped up a low snap from center at his own 8-yard line, scooted beneath a defender’s grasp at the line of scrimmage, plowed through and found daylight 15 yards downfield. Then he sprinted untouched for the rest of a 90-yard touchdown run. Cobre’s Jonathan Sera helped block Keen Martinez’s extra point, but with 9:16 left, it was 34-0.
Abreu picked off Sanchiz on the next series and returned the ball to the Cobre 23. A couple plays later, Josh Brito darted loose for a 30-yard score for the coup de grace with 7:26 remaining.
Notably, Cobre played with its third-string QB (Sanchiz) and briefly with a de facto No. 4, Nick Madrid, after Sanchiz took a hard sack by Abreu. The original starting QB and No. 2 man have both been sidelined this season.
In other 3A playoff games, No. 7 St. Mike’s stomped No. 10 Hot Springs 52-21 and will play at No. 2 Raton (on the same half of the bracket as Robertson); No. 5 Albuquerque Academy blitzed No. 12 Pojoaque 59-12 and will visit No. 4 Bloomfield; and No. 8 Hatch Valley rolled No. 9 Portales and now get to travel to No. 1 Lovington.