LA hangs 95 on Bernalillo Friday

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By Mike Cote

Scoring 27 points in one half sends a message.And then there was the half where there wasn’t a running clock.In its season finale Friday night at Sullivan Field, the Los Alamos Hilltopper football team scored on all 11 of its possessions and three of the Bernalillo Spartans’ in a 95-0 decision.The victory clinched the District 2AAAA runner-up spot for the Hilltoppers, and assures of them of a place in the AAAA state tournament, which gets underway this weekend.Los Alamos safety Matt Zocco, who also spent some time at wingback and quarterback Friday, finished the game the same way he started: a long interception for a touchdown.Zocco had to watch from the sideline two weeks ago as his mates were taking a 50-30 drubbing at the hands of Capital. But Friday, he made his presence felt in a hurry.On just the fourth play from scrimmage, with the Spartans (4-6 overall, 1-3 in 2AAAA) coming out in a spread formation, Zocco sniffed out a halfback screen, grabbed the Josh Galindo pass and raced 43 yards for a score.On the game’s final play, Zocco jumped a Bernalillo in-route, wove through virtually all of the other 21 players on the field and dove for the pylon, just breaking the plane of the goal line for a 60-yard return.“It feels great,” Zocco said, talking about his injury, a concussion suffered in a 2AAAA win over Española Valley. “I had two weeks off of rest, no hitting whatsoever. It helped a lot. Made me want to hit people even harder.”Along with the two long interception returns, Zocco ran 69 yards for a score on a pitch right at the 10:23 mark of the second quarter, breaking three Bernalillo tackles before getting into the open field. He scored from 40 yards out in the third quarter, then would score again on a quarterback keeper up the gut from 20 yards out to make the score 89-0.Hilltopper head coach Bob Scott took some flak following the game from Bernalillo head coach Ken Noel for running up the score, though Scott said that was not his intent.“Every time they had the ball, I thought to myself, ‘How many times are they going to throw it?’” Scott said after the game. “They kept throwing incomplete in the first half and stopping the clock.”Galindo wasn’t shy about throwing the ball in Friday’s game, attempting 17 passes in the first half and completing nine for 126 yards. However, Galindo also threw three picks in the first half and a fourth in the second half.Bernalillo was obviously taking a page from Capital’s game-plan against the Hilltoppers Oct. 26. Capital sent receivers across the field the entire night on varied-length routes which befuddled the Hilltopper secondary, particularly with Zocco sitting on the bench.And although Galindo was putting some passes right on the money — Spartan receivers dropped four passes, two of them for potentially big gains — he finished just 12-for-27 on the evening.Offensively, Los Alamos racked up 428 total yards and 68 points in the first half alone. The scoring went as follows:

• Zocco’s 43-yard interception return with 9:55 remaining in the first quarter• Martin Romero, nine yards on a pitch right, 9:05 left in the first quarter• Raul Rodriguez’s 25-yarder off left-tackle, 4:43 left in the first quarter• Jeremy Kasik’s 63-yard pass on a fly pattern to Rodriguez, 2:54 left in the first quarter• A 62-yard Romero punt return; :59 remaining in the first quarter• Zocco 69-yard pitch right, 10:23 left in the second quarter• Kasik called his own number from a yard out, 9:27 remaining in the second quarter• Kasik again from a yard out, 6:18 remaining in the second quarter• Rodriguez’s third TD of the night, 11 yards on a counter left, 3:40 left in the second quarter• A 50-yard run up the gut by Zachary Mang, 1:03 left in the second quarter• Zocco’s 40-yard cutback run with 9:44 left in the third quarter• Ruben Martinez from 16 yards out up right through the middle with 2:43 remaining in the third quarter• Zocco’s 20-yard quarterback keeper, 4:40 left in the game• Zocco’s fifth touchdown, a 60-yard interception return as the clock expired

“Our focus is back,” Scott said. “I can see that in the locker room. “That came out (Friday).”The Hilltoppers (9-1 overall, 3-1 in 2AAAA) spent Saturday night waiting to see where they would be seeded when the Class AAAA brackets were released and who their first tournament opponent would be.Zocco had an opponent in mind that he’d like to see in the playoffs.“We got to make a statement to the seeding committee,” he said. “That loss to Capital was a fluke. It was good for us. It made us want the state title even more.”