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To pull off an upset against the Belen Eagles, the Los Alamos Hilltoppers would have to play near-flawless football and keep the powerful Eagle running game at bay.
Unfortunately, Belen got off to a hot start Friday night, while Los Alamos didn’t.
Belen quarterback Chris Peralta went 62 yards for a touchdown on the second play from scrimmage Friday. Belen would tack on another touchdown midway through the first quarter and Peralta would scamper for 75 yards on the first play of the second quarter.
Los Alamos would come back to score a pair of touchdowns in the second half, but it wouldn’t be enough as Belen cruised to a 46-15 victory at Sullivan Field.
Belen (4-1) came into the game as the No. 6-rated team in the state, giving the top-ranked Goddard Rockets a run for their money the week before.
But with Peralta, a sophomore backup quarterback at the helm instead of senior Nick Kurtz, the Eagles employed their bread-and-butter ground game to full effect, rolling up 242 yards on the ground in the first half.
Peralta, showing good blocking reads and patience rarely seen in a sophomore, had 161 yards running in the first half – he didn’t play in the second half – while bruising running back Xavi Armijo rushed for 135 yards on 14 carries and three touchdowns as the Eagles went up 46-0 at the break.
It wasn’t all bad news for the Hilltoppers (2-3), who lost their first home game of 2012 Friday. As in the 2011 meeting between the two teams, the Hilltoppers were able to move the ball fairly well throughout the contest.
Tailback Arnoldo Ortiz went for 154 yards on 20 carries. He had 70 yards in the first half, 30 coming on the Hilltoppers’ best drive of the first half.
That drive, which wrapped up as the first quarter expired, stalled out at the Belen 25, however. Los Alamos went for it on a fourth-and-3, but Ortiz’s rushing attempt came up about three inches short of first-down yardage.
That play, followed up immediately by Peralta’s long touchdown run, deflated the Hilltoppers for the remainder of the half.
At the 2:29 mark, Belen scored off an interception at the Los Alamos 21-yard line. On the ensuing kickoff, Los Alamos failed to pick up the ball deep in its own territory and Belen recovered at the 4-yard line. Armijo walked into the end zone untouched on the next play.
The Hilltoppers got on the board late in the third quarter. Seth Drop went in on an end-around from the 8-yard line.
Late in the fourth quarter, Xavier Dennison, who had 44 yards on 6 carries, took a pitch out to the end zone from 4 yards out. That scoring drive covered 96 yards.