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Smothering defense propels Portales, denies Bloomfield in 4A football

BLOOMFIELD – Portales was well aware of the prolific numbers Bloomfield’s offense had generated all year, and the Rams’ defense was ready for the challenge.

They wreaked havoc front to back to win Saturday’s Class 4A state football championship game 23-0 at Bobcat Stadium.

“It’s something no one can take away from you. It just feels really good, to finish my high school career like this,” said Portales defensive end Philip Blidi, who will continue his football career at Texas Tech. “I just wanted to go out with a bang.”

Portales (12-1) won its sixth blue trophy in school history, and second in the last four seasons. The Rams last won state in 2016. Romeo Gbassagee had a 40-yard touchdown off a shuffle pass, Baylor Diaz scored on an 8-yard quarterback keeper, and Jordan Garcia added a 4-yard TD off another flip pass for the Portales offense.

Making back-to-back state finals appearances, Bloomfield (12-1) was again denied what would have been its first state title since 1966.

“We were on the field a long time (on defense),” Bloomfield coach Bob Allcorn said. “We struggled offensively. It’s a hell of a defense that Portales has. We weren’t having that success finding holes in their defense.

“That causes struggles for us. This community should be proud of these kids, I know they are. We came up short again, and it’s unfortunate.”

After scoring 48.5 points a game coming into the final, the Bobcats were shut out for the first time in two years.

Blidi and company kept attacking the pocket, kept chasing down Bloomfield’s players sideline to sideline. Bobcats quarterback Vince Marquez was under endless siege trying to scope out any downfield targets he could.

“We just executed it to perfection,” said Portales defensive back Kellan Hightower, who had a pair of interceptions, of the constant pressure. “It was huge. It turned the whole game around. It gave us the momentum.”

Portales’ defense gave up just 14 points in its three playoff victories.

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