6A football: Rams rally, top La Cueva in OT thriller - Albuquerque Journal

6A football: Rams rally, top La Cueva in OT thriller

The Rio Rancho Rams celebrate after defeating La Cueva, 35-34, in double overtime at Rio Rancho High School on Friday night in the Class 6A semifinals. (MIKE SANDOVAL/For the Journal)
RIO RANCHO — While the first iteration of Rio Rancho-La Cueva was a bit of a snoozer, the rematch was an absolute thrill ride.

The second-seeded Rams (9-1) overcame a game-ending injury to its top offensive player, and rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit to defeat the third-seeded Bears in double overtime, 35-34, at Rio Rancho Stadium on Friday night.

Rio Rancho will play rival Cleveland next Saturday in the state final.

“When I was younger, I got to play in the All-American baseball games in Florida in front of some pretty big crowds, but nothing like this,” said Rio Rancho quarterback Dominick Priddy. “Nothing that’s gone back and forth this much. We were literally crushing the ground down 21-7. Everyone lost hope in us. We just came out at halftime with heart, and we never gave up.”

Rio Rancho’s Traiven Williams II, left, catches the go-ahead score as he’s being defended by La Cueva’s Colt Mangino at Rio Rancho High School on Friday night. (MIKE SANDOVAL/For the Journal)

The Bears (10-2) had ran off nine straight victories since the 50-0 shellacking administered by the Rams in late August.

After forcing a three-and-out on Rio Rancho’s first possession, the Bears’ Gabriel Buie scored on a 72-yard burst on his team’s first offensive play.

That TD was followed up with two more as La Cueva was firmly in command at halftime. 

Too, Rio Rancho star running back, UNM commit Zach Vigil, went down with a rib injury early in the second quarter, and didn’t return.

If Rio Rancho intended on changing the momentum, it would need to do so quickly, and do so with other players ascending into key roles.

“We talked about it at halftime: Look we were up 20-0 over Cleveland, and we lost,” said Rio Rancho head coach Gerry Pannoni. “We’re down 21-7, we can do this, you’ve got to believe.”

The momentum started to shift on Rio Rancho’s first drive of the second half. After stopping a deep La Cueva drive at its own 20, the Rams marched 80 yards to cut the 14-point deficit in half.

A pair of pass interference penalties extended the possession, and Devin Rice finished off the drive with a 12-yard scoring run.

Rio Rancho then executed a perfect onside kick to retain possession. The game-tying drive took 10 plays with Priddy tying the contest after a 7-yard TD scamper.

La Cueva missed a go-ahead 27-yard field on its first possession of the fourth quarter, and Rio Rancho’s go-ahead TD drive stalled at the one-yard line when Priddy’s fourth-down pass was knocked away.

Rio Rancho had one more opportunity to win in regulation, but a 40-yard field goal attempt went wide left to force extra minutes.

The drama continued in overtime.

La Cueva scored easily on its first OT possession when QB Aidan Armenta hooked up with Ian Sanchez on a 10-yard TD toss.

Rio Rancho responded even quicker as Priddy overcame a bad snap over his head, scrambled to his left, and found Javas Maria on the 10-yard TD toss.

The Rams possessed the ball first to start the second overtime, and scored in just two plays. Priddy found Traiven Williams II from seven yards out. The successful point-after put the Rams in front 35-28.

La Cueva wasted no time scoring in two plays as Brandon Cabaniss punched the ball in from 1 yard out. The Bears, though, eschewed a tying point-after kick, and went for the two-point conversion and the victory. On the try, Armenta was pressured quickly by the Rams defense, and his pass fell incomplete to end the game.
It was not immediately known the extent of Vigil’s injury, or his availability for next week.

No. 2 RIO RANCHO  35 , No. 3 LA CUEVA 34 (2 OT)
La Cueva      14 | 7 | 0 | 0 | 7 | 6 — 34
Rio Rancho     0 | 7 | 14 | 0 | 7 | 7 —- 35

Home » Sports » 6A football: Rams rally, top La Cueva in OT thriller


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
"Incredible human being" -- Longtime coach, Cibola AD Schroer ...
Featured Sports
Phil Schroer was remembered Wednesday as ... Phil Schroer was remembered Wednesday as a man who loved his family, who loved his Indiana Hoosiers, ...
2
La Cueva QB Armenta: The total package
High School
It wasn't always a sure thing ... It wasn't always a sure thing that Aidan Armenta would be a La Cueva Bear. A current Pittsburgh Steeler nearly changed his future color ...
3
Prep football: Los Lunas faces, and embraces, bigger challenges ...
Featured Sports
LOS LUNAS – It ... LOS LUNAS – It can't be missed. The minute anyone walks through the door and into the Los Lu ...
4
La Cueva star WR Exodus Ayers set to leave ...
High School
La Cueva's 2022 prep football season ... La Cueva's 2022 prep football season will not include the player who is possibly New Mexico's top returning wide receiver. Senior Exodus Ayers, who ...
5
Former Lobo Brody tackles new challenge at West Mesa
High School
Landrick Brody remembers seven years ago, ... Landrick Brody remembers seven years ago, as a player for the Duke City Gladiators, and the theme from one of his mentors, then-DC coach ...
6
Yodice: Prep football landscape looks much different than last ...
High School
Even as you read this first ... Even as you read this first sentence, the 2022-23 academic school year in New Mexico is already underway. Monday marks the official opening of ...
7
Prep Football: Changes afoot at Rio Rancho and Cleveland
High School
Let's clear this up at the ... Let's clear this up at the start: Robert Garza's skill set dwarfs that of Nate Pino. 'I don't like to brag,' Garza said, 'but ...
8
NMSHOF extends ticket discount
Boys' Basketball
The New Mexico Sports Hall of ... The New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame has extended through Friday a discounted price of $75 for tickets to its Aug. 20 induction banquet ...
9
Eldorado hoops star Hines goes off for 67 in ...
Featured Sports
Bella Hines' Saturday morning was almost ... Bella Hines' Saturday morning was almost definitely better than your Saturday morning. ...