VACAVILLE — It was a blowout, but at least it wasn’t a walkover.
Trailing by eight touchdowns, Armijo High running back Damian Simpson sprinted 85 yards to paydirt with four minutes remaining and the Indians added a two-point conversion, lending some dignity to a 56-8 football shellacking by Vacaville Friday night at Zunino Stadium.
“It doesn’t change much, but we didn’t give up,” Simpson said after his team fell to 1-6 on the season and 0-2 in the Monticello Empire League. “Vacaville’s probably the best team in our league. We tried our hardest and never gave up.”
The Indians got to see plenty of Vacaville’s dazzling offensive fireworks as the Bulldogs improved to 4-3 on the season and 2-0 in the MEL.
The Bulldogs got 190 yards passing and three touchdown tosses from quarterback Nic Ardave, two touchdown runs and 125 yards (on just four carries) from Jacob Te’o, and touchdown runs of 58 yards from David Mewborn, 82 yards from Daniel Mewborn and 7 yards from Demetrius Nunez.
They led 35-0 at halftime and kept going in the second half, despite emptying their bench.
“We’re not good enough to make fumbles, mistakes and penalties,” coach Karl Finley said. “If we’re not flawless on offense, we can’t keep our defense off the field. We’ve got about seven guys going both ways and that’s tough.”
Simpson ran for 156 yards on 22 carries. The rest of the team combined for minus-4 yards of total offense.
“He’s a good running back and all five of our offensive linemen are underclassmen,” Finley said.
While Armijo struggled mightily, there was one area in which the Indians excelled: Punting.
Enrique Garrido-Ramirez averaged 42 yards on seven kicks, booming three of them 55 yards or more — kicking away from Vacaville’s returners and getting extra length off the bounces.
“I try to see their weak spot on film,” Garrido-Ramirez said. “We see which side blocks better and we angle the kicks away from them.”
The senior also plays some quarterback and linebacker, so he’s on the field frequently. He said punting is a surprise specialty.
“It’s just something I’ve done well since my sophomore year,” he said. “I try to stick to what works.”
For Armjio, punting was what worked best on a night when Vacaville scored early, often and without answers until Simpson’s late score.
“That was a relief,” Garrido-Ramirez said of the late touchdown. “We showed signs of life. You look for good news where you can find it.”
The Indians return to action next week at home against Vintage. Vacaville visits Napa.
Reach Brad Stanhope at 427-6958 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bradstanhope.