Talk about a team in dire need of a bye week.
St. Pius on Saturday afternoon was involved in the type of football game that has become all too familiar to the Sartans this season. It wasn’t until the final moments that they managed to secure a 27-24 victory over Aztec at Nusenda Community Stadium.
Tellingly, the Tigers (1-5) were 0-4 on PATs, three of them kicks.
As they head into to their off week, the Sartans (4-2), ranked No. 7 in Class 4A, already have been involved in four games decided by three or fewer points. They are 2-2 in those games. So this wasn’t anything new to them.
“It kinda does (help), honestly,” said junior wide receiver Chris Coash, who caught two touchdown passes in the win for St. Pius. “We’re used to these situations, we’re trained for them. It helps a lot, actually.”
There were heavy momentum swings for both teams Saturday.
The Sartans scored the first 14 points, with quarterback Alejandro Sapien throwing a TD pass to Coash eight minutes into the game, and Marco Ybarra adding an 8-yard TD run on the first play of the second quarter.
Aztec had the game’s next 18 points, and after trailing 14-12 at halftime took its first lead at 18-14 on a 20-yard TD pass to Tristen McNeal four minutes into the third quarter.
St. Pius reached the Tigers’ 1 on the next series, but a fourth-down run by Ybarra was smothered by Aztec. But after forcing a punt, the Sartans got the ball back with great field position at the Tigers’ 40.
And from there, it took only three plays to take the lead back, with Sapien tossing a 7-yard scoring pass to Dominic Esparza for a 21-18 lead.
“We have to keep our grit and perseverance and just pull out in tough situations like this,” Coash said. He and Sapien hooked up on a 23-yard score with 8:05 left in the game for needed insurance after the Tigers cut the deficit to 27-24 with 3:04 remaining.
“All the games have been awesome,” St. Pius coach Dave Montoya said. “But what’s hard is, (Sunday), when I watch the film, I’m like, ‘Why are we doing this?’ and ‘Why are we don’t that?’ If we could just cut that stuff out.”
ST. PIUS 27, AZTEC 24
Aztec 0 12 6 6 — 24
St. Pius 7 7 7 6 — 27
Scoring: SP, Chris Coash 19 pass from Alejandro Sapien (Coash kick); SP, Marco Ybarra 8 run (Coash kick); A, Marcquis Henry 7 pass from Raiden Riggs (kick failed); A, Henry 10 pass from Riggs (pass failed); A, Tristen McNeal 20 pass from Riggs (kick failed); SP, Dominic Esparza 7 pass from Sapien (Coash kick); SP, Coash 26 pass from Sapien (PAT failed); A, Riggs 22 TD pass (kick failed). Records: SP 4-2; A 1-5.
ALSO SATURDAY: Albuquerque Academy (5-1) beat visiting Escalante 42-18. … At Milne Stadium in the afternoon on Saturday, Portales beat Rio Grande 53-0.