FAIRFIELD — At the end of a long, sometimes difficult season, the Rodriguez High football team wrapped it up with a 36-21 win over crosstown rival Armijo at Coach Ed Hopkins Memorial Stadium Friday night in the teams’ inaugural meeting in the Monticello Empire League.
Armijo dominated the clock early on, running more than eight minutes off on its opening drive, capping the 80-yard slog with a 2-yard run by Damian Simpson for a 7-0 lead after Wyatt Grieves’ extra point.
Rodriguez gave the ball right back, fumbling on its second play of the game at the Armijo 46.
The Indians capitalized, going 54 yards on 12 plays for the score – a 5-yard scramble by Simpson for a 13-0 lead with 9:49 to play in the first half.
The Mustangs made the adjustments, though, and it was all Rodriguez after that.
With Armijo chewing up the clock, Rodriguez went for quick strikes and it worked, needing just 22 seconds and two plays to find pay dirt.
After a failed pass attempt, Jacob Hurt connected with Aaron Short for a 71-yard catch and run. Short fumbled the ball at the Armijo 2 and teammate Hashim Boyd dove on the ball in the end zone for the touchdown, making it 13-7.
“I started my seniors. The first couple series was for them, but then I went back to the offense I had against Vacaville and it came up big,” said Rodriguez coach Sarj Singh, who finished his first year at the helm. “Aaron Short is amazing. If Jacob get a little bit bigger, it could be a fun season next year.”
After an Indians three-and-out, the Mustangs struck again, going 78 yards on nine plays, including a fake punt that turned into a 30-yard gain for Gage Ealy on 4th-and-1.
It was Boyd again, this time hauling in a 32-yard lob from Hurt for the TD and a 14-13 lead after Eduardo Nuno’s extra point with 2:15 to play in the half.
Rodriguez didn’t trail again as its defense plugged up the middle and began to stuff the Indians’ relentless rushing attack.
Armijo’s next drive lasted exactly one play and ended with a fumble on the Rodriguez 48, setting up a one-play scoring drive by the Mustangs – a 52-yard bomb from Ealy to Short for a 21-13 advantage at the break.
The Mustangs found the end zone twice in the third quarter and sandwiched those around a safety.
First on a 2-yard keeper by Hurt with 9:02 to play in the quarter for a 27-13 lead.
The Mustangs threatened again on their next possession, but fumbled on the 1, setting up a safety when three Rodriguez defenders brought down Armijo QB Brian Weisz in the end zone for a 29-13 lead.
After the free kick it took the Mustangs just four plays – three for first-downs – to score again on a 13-yard run by Boyd to go up 36-13.
Armijo finally broke through on the final play of the game on a 7-yard pass from Weisz to Joshua Toney and a 2-point conversion pass from Weisz to Jacob Chauvin.
“It’s a great game to end on. If we capitalize on a couple missed tackles, we win the game,” said Indians coach Karl Finley, also wrapping his first year in town. “We dominated the line of scrimmage against a huge defensive line, a big team, fast team and the kids did a really good job to finish out strong like this.”