The final tally for the Albuquerque Academy Chargers was this: 82 yards of total offense and three turnovers.
And, somehow, a 7-6 victory.
The sixth-seeded Chargers’ defense came up with two huge interceptions in the second half as Academy (7-4) survived a war of attrition in ousting its district rival, the 11th-seeded Bernalillo Spartans (2-8), from the Class 4A playoffs with a first-round victory on a frigid and windy Friday afternoon at the Academy.
“We realized, this game is gonna be won by our defense,” said senior cornerback Rylee Bleicher.
Trailing 6-0 and with the offense ineffective throughout, Bleicher gave the Chargers the jolt they needed. He intercepted Bernalillo quarterback Uriel Castro — who made the ill-advised decision to throw against his body, and into a strong wind — in the latter stages of the third quarter.
“I just saw a duck,” Bleicher said. “A nice and easy ball.”
He returned it 22 yards to the Bernalillo 2.
On the next play, Landen Martinez scored on a touchdown run with 3:28 to go in the third quarter. Gage Conway’s true PAT was the game-winner.
The cold, and especially the wind, made for an exceedingly difficult day for both offenses. That and both teams’ outstanding defenses created one of the lowest-scoring prep games of the year in New Mexico.
The Spartans had the first points, on a perfectly executed middle screen. David Llanez took the short throw and did most of the work for a 53-yard score four minutes into the second quarter.
“We talked about that screen,” said Academy’s Brody Whitaker. “It got away from us.”
The Spartans had to be frustrated since one penalty negated a touchdown pass in the first half and another erased a fumble recovery on a muffed punt. Plus the interceptions; the second, by Kiedis Connell, late in the game near the goal line, was Bernalillo’s final offensive snap.
Academy ran out the clock — with the help of an offside penalty on the Spartans when Academy was fourth-and-1 from its 25 and prepared to go for it.
ALBUQUERQUE ACADEMY 7, BERNALILLO 6
Bernalillo 0 6 0 0 — 6
Academy 0 0 7 0 — 7
Scoring: B, David Llanez 53 pass from Uriel Castro (kick failed); AA, Landen Martinez 2 run (Gage Conway kick). First downs: B 9; AA 8. Rushes-yards: B 30-40; AA 30-50. Passing: B 4-18-2—92; AA 6-12-1—32. Total offense: B 132; AA 82. Punts-avg.: B 5-33.6; AA 6-28.2. Fumbles-lost: B 1-1; AA 3-2. Penalties-yards: B 9-67; AA 6-87.
Three metro No. 12 seeds were ousted Friday night — Atrisco Heritage in 6A, Belen in 5A and St. Pius in 4A.
In 6A, No. 5 seed Volcano Vista (9-2) got four first-half touchdown passes from Elliot Paskett Bell, two to Aden Cardiel, and Tristan Cordova caught a TD pass and returned a kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown in a 41-point first half for the Hawks, who cruised to a 64-14 victory over the Jaguars (5-6).
At Rio Rancho, sophomore QB J.J. Arellano — before leaving later with an injury — recorded a pair of short touchdown runs in the first half as the sixth-seeded Rams (7-4) eliminated No. 11 Alamogordo with a 21-7 win.
Belen and St. Pius were blown out in their first-round road games. No. 5 Deming beat the Eagles 42-7 in 5A, Portales thumped the Sartans 48-3 in a 4A game matchup in Clovis.
Moriarty, the No. 7 seed in 4A, pounded No. 10 Kirtland Central 53-2. The Pintos forced eight turnovers. Michael Magoffe had two picks, one a pick-6, and also rushed for two touchdowns for Moriarty. Amare Gonzales had two interceptions and a TD run, and Santiago Chavez rushed for a pair of scores.
No. 9 seed Valencia lost a 12-6 road decision at No. 9 Aztec in 4A.