BERNALILLO — The Taos Tigers have become accustomed to life on the road, and on Friday night picked up a win against a team, like themselves, that wants to be major player in the November Class 4A football playoffs.
Senior quarterback Daemon Ely threw two touchdown passes to Favian Cordova, and he also ran for a third score, as the visiting Tigers — who are playing all their games away from Taos this season — left with a 21-6 victory over Bernalillo.
Ely threw a 6-yard TD pass to Cordova early in the second quarter, and those two added a 23-yarder on Taos’ first drive of the third quarter. That score for the Tigers (4-1) proved to be the much-needed insurance score against the No. 10-ranked Spartans (2-3) as it put No. 7 Taos up by two touchdowns.
“Daemon Ely is a dawg,” Taos coach Art Abreu Jr. said. “He doesn’t come off the field, he plays all three phases, and without him, this team … ”
It was not necessary to articulate the rest of that thought, since Ely — who also plays defensive end and is the team’s punter — was clearly the most influential player on the field Friday for Bernalillo’s homecoming.
At 6-feet-8, Ely is almost certainly the tallest New Mexican to be playing the varsity QB position since Eldorado’s similarly sized Zach Gentry a few years ago.
And it was Ely who scored what proved to be the game-winning touchdown.
With the score 6-6 — and both teams having scored a touchdown as the result of a turnover and a short field — Ely engineered an eight-play, 62-yard drive late in the first half to put the Tigers in front.
It was a 19-yard throw to Cordova at the goal line that put the ball only inches from the goal line, and Ely scored on a sneak on the next play. With a 2-point throw, Taos led 14-6 at halftime.
“He (Cordova) made a couple of amazing catches,” Ely said. “He’s someone I can trust to bring the ball down. When I want to score, I’m gonna put it in his hands, always.”
Equally important was Taos’ opening drive of the second half. It covered 60 yards, and ended with Ely throwing deep over the middle into the end zone to Cordova.
“That was our message going into halftime, that we come out and start hot (in the second half),” Abreu said. “If we put up a score, we’ll be sitting pretty.”
In the second quarter, Taos’ first score came after the Tigers recovered a fumble at the Bernalillo 16. But moments later, Taos fumbled and the Spartans returned the ball to the Taos 8. Uriel Castro threw an 8-yard TD pass on the next play to Jacob Pino for a 6-6 tie.
Bernalillo did have a great chance to cut the 21-6 deficit in half toward the end of the third quarter, but on a fourth-and-goal from the Taos 8, Ely sacked Castro for a 14-yard loss.
The Tigers are getting a new playing field, so they are playing home games at nearby Questa.
“How we’re managing,” Ely said, “is putting love and faith and all our energy into each other.”
TAOS 21, BERNALILLO 6
Taos 0-14-7-0 — 21
Bernalillo 0-6-0-0 — 6
Scoring: T, Favian Cordova 6 pass from Daemon Ely (kick failed); B, Jacob Pino 8 pass from Uriel Castro (pass failed); T, Ely 1 run (Ely pass to Noah Washington); T, Cordova 23 pass from Ely (PAT). Records: t 4-1; B 2-3.
ALSO FRIDAY NIGHT: Quarterback Elliot Paskett-Bell had big night for Volcano Vista (5-1), throwing three touchdown passes and running for a fourth as the Hawks beat Eldorado (1-5) 52-29 at Nusenda Community Stadium. …
At Wilson Stadium, Jacob Adcox had three receiving TDs, and Malachi Thymes added an 80-yard TD run as Sandia (3-2) belted winless Manzano 49-14. …
At Milne Stadium, Rio Grande (1-4) came from behind in the fourth quarter to force overtime, and beat Del Norte (0-6) with a walkoff 2-point conversion, 22-20. …
At Hutchison Stadium in Farmington, Rio Rancho (5-1) came back and defeated Farmington 35-28, as the Rams scored on a long TD pass with 9 minutes remaining for the game-winning points.