LA romps Capital in its finale

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By Mike Cote

 SANTA FE – Even if the door isn’t wide open, it was still open, and the Los Alamos Hilltopper football team marched right through it.


Los Alamos was in need of a win to keep its hopes of a District 2-4A title alive, and it was able to do just that Friday night against the Capital Jaguars. The Hilltoppers rushed for better than 10 yards per carry in the second half, blowing open what had been a tight game in the third quarter.

Fullback Xavier Dennison rushed for 126 yards in one of the biggest nights of his season as the Hilltoppers thumped Capital 42-0 at Jaguar Field.

Friday’s game was the season finale for the Hilltoppers (3-6), who, going into this week’s play, have a half-game lead over the Santa Fe Demons. The Demons, however, play those same Jaguars at Ivan Head Stadium and, if they prevail, will win the district by virtue of the tiebreaker.

Bernalillo, which is in line to finish 3-1 in district along with Santa Fe and Los Alamos, was effectively eliminated from advancing to the state tournament with the Hilltoppers’ win.

It was Bernalillo that kept Los Alamos’ hopes of a 2-4A crown alive Thursday night, upsetting Santa Fe 43-42 and setting up a likely 3-way tie scenario at the top of the 2-4A standings.

While the odds of Capital pulling off the upset over Santa Fe this coming Friday aren’t too favorable for the Hilltoppers, that was something they didn’t have the luxury of worrying about heading into the Capital contest.

“We were thinking this could be our last game of the season,” said Los Alamos senior Brian Geyer, who has been battling injuries throughout the year. “We had to put it on the line. We have 12 seniors and this could be the last game of our football careers.”

Geyer had an apparent scoop-and-score touchdown in the fourth quarter after Capital sophomore quarterback Augustine ‘Augie’ Larranga couldn’t find the handle on a botched snap from the shotgun. Geyer rumbled 48 yards into the end zone but the play was called back to the Capital on a holding call far away from the play.

Geyer recovered two fumbles in the second half as Capital, which had played relatively turnover-free for a good portion of the season, put the ball on the ground five times Friday.

Los Alamos broke the scoreless tie jut a little more than two minutes into the second quarter with quarterback Brice Van Etten finding Seth Drop on a seam route down the right hashmark for a 35-yard score. Drop, one of the speediest players on the Hilltopper squad, blew right by the Capital secondary for the score.

Capital’s next drive stalled out at its own 34, and the ensuing punt went straight up into the air and rolled backward 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Van Etten went off right tackle to score five plays later to give Los Alamos a 14-0 advantage.

In the second half, Elliot Hersman went virtually untouched for a 46-yard score, Dennison scored from 22 yards out, Sam Ortiz did likewise from 11 yards out and Van Etten connected with Tristen Hill on another 35-yard toss, that one on a post route where Hill also outraced the Capital deep coverage.

Defensively, Los Alamos did a solid job containing Capital’s main offensive threats, Larranga and Kevin Brown. Brown, a sophomore I-back, managed just 10 yards on 9 carries in the first half. Larranga, a slippery quarterback, eluded some big rushes throughout the game, including perhaps his best run of the game, racing back 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage, reversing his field, and picking up 6 yards with three Hilltopper defensive linemen chasing him in the backfield.