The remarkable turnaround season of the 2009 Robertson football team came to a close Saturday in Socorro, with the host Warriors taking a 7-3 squeaker in the Class 3A state quarterfinals.
Socorro QB Zach Esquivel scored the afternoon’s lone touchdown on a goal-line plunge with 3:22 left in the first half.
Robertson’s Keen Martinez nailed a 31-yard field goal as time expired in the half.
That was all the scoring in a game dictated by big defensive stands, multiple fourth down conversion attempts, and a number of offensive penalties — most assessed against RHS.
Socorro, the No. 3 seed in the Class 3A bracket, advances to face No. 2 seed Raton next week in one semifinal. Raton won another epic clash with District 2-3A rival St. Michael’s, also Saturday, by a 35-28 margin.
On the other half of the draw, top-ranked Lovington (a 49-0 victor over Hatch Valley on Saturday) will play at No. 5 Albuquerque Academy. In one of the playoffs’ few upsets — at least in terms of seeding — Academy overpowered No. 4 Bloomfield 42-6 on Friday night.
Robertson, winners of its last two trips to Socorro, appeared off to another victory on Saturday. Johnathan Lucero opened the game with runs of 12 and 7 yards to reach midfield, and Dalan Abreu and Daniel Martinez followed with rushes to get the Cardinals to the Socorro 29-yard line. But a couple of penalties backed the Redbirds up, and the drive ended with a turnover on downs.
That would become a familiar refrain throughout the game, as RHS drives fueled by solid running and the occasional pass play (usually from Martinez to Fabian Montoya) ended up losing ground because of yellow flags.
The Cardinal defense — which had shut out three straight foes going into the weekend — was again effective, countering a good rushing effort by burly Warrior fullback Charles Saavedra.
Finally, with 3:22 left in the second quarter, Esquivel broke the scoreless tie for a Warrior TD.
A couple of series later, RHS got on the board. Martinez passed to Montoya and then Nicholas Aragon before running it down to the Warrior 14, stopping the clock with 2 seconds left before halftime. Keen Martinez connected on a field goal to make it 7-3 at the break.
Antonio Arguello and Daniel Martinez combined to strip the ball from Saavedra early in the third quarter, but the ensuing drive stalled at the Socorro 20. Luis Lopez regained possession for RHS with an interception a few minutes later, but the Warriors held and forced a punt.
Neither side could mount an effective drive after that.
Coach Richard Martinez’s Cards finish 8-4, a six-game rise.