RIO RANCHO – The view was spectacular. It had everyone talking.
Not the football game below.
The jaw-dropping inferno 2 miles away.
Inside of Rio Rancho High School’s stadium, Class 6A’s fourth-ranked Rams doused any suspense by putting up three quick touchdowns on visiting Cibola, and Rio Rancho ultimately cruised to a 48-13 victory in a District 1-6A opener on Friday night.
The evening was all Rio Rancho could have hoped for. It was homecoming night. The newest Hall of Famers were introduced. And the Rams, who have won four straight, continued their impressive play.
Rio Rancho (4-2) led 21-0 nine minutes into the game.
“We needed to come out, punch them in the mouth and set the tone,” said senior linebacker Jaylan Smith, who delivered a pick-six for the Rio Rancho defense.
That occurred on the first play of the second quarter, as the Rams led 27-0.
To open the game, Rio Rancho went 70 yards on 13 plays, with Zach Vigil scoring from the 2 to cap the drive. Following a Cibola fumble, Rams quarterback Isaiah Chavez went 21 yards on the next play for a 14-0 lead.
And after a second Cibola fumble, Chavez threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Tyrese Watson in the back of the end zone. The score came on a third-and-26 after two Rio Rancho offensive penalties.
Chavez later added an 11-yard TD run to make it 35-7 at halftime. Aden Chavez of Cibola threw a 9-yard TD pass to Mikey Garcia that had cut the deficit to 27-7 just moments earlier.
By the time the second half had begun, the nearby Rio Rancho Country Club was ablaze on top of a hill a couple of miles to the south.
The game played out without incident. Vigil added a 6-yard touchdown run, and Chavez threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to – no joke – a player who is called DayDay Cox.
“The run offense is really working,” said Vigil. “You have to choose between me and (Chavez).”
The Rio Rancho defense limited Cibola to 26 rushing yards and turned three turnovers into 21 points.
“This team, I like to make comparisons,” Rams coach David Howes said. “They are very similar to some of the (better) teams we’ve had in the past, and rise to the occasion.”
Cibola (3-3) quarterback Chavez was held to 108 passing yards by a Rio Rancho defense that has played extremely well the last month after a rough opening two games.
“They nickel and dime you to death, so our guys had to be a lot more disciplined,” Howes said.