FARMINGTON — Albuquerque was much kinder to Aztec on Friday than it was a week ago.
The No. 13 Tigers rebounded from a tough 55-41 loss at No. 9 Del Norte to beat No. 15 St. Pius X 42-6 at the University of New Mexico Stadium on Friday night. It was the final non-district game on the schedule for Aztec (3-4).
"It was certainly good for the guys. After last week, we wanted to go into this game and gain confidence for the boys," said Aztec head coach Matt Steinfeldt. "We are walking out of this game feeling better about ourselves going into the district season."
Junior quarterback Marcus Crawford threw five touchdowns in the win for Aztec. Josh Harris and Justis Francisco each had two touchdown receptions, and Ryneal Lewis-Adams had another.
Lewis-Adams also had a rushing touchdown in the game and more than 200 all-purpose yards.
"He was catching the ball, running it and helping us out a lot," Steinfeldt said of Lewis-Adams. "Any time he has a great game, it gives us a lot of confidence. The opposing defense collapses on him in the red zone, and it opens everything up for the rest of the guys."
Play-action passes and screens worked well for Aztec on Friday night. Steinfeldt said the team was simply taking what the Sartan defense was giving them.
The Sartans drove the ball down the field well on each of their first two drives, but Braden Goimarac intercepted a pass thrown by Emilio Arellano in the end zone to keep St. Pius out of the end zone. On their second drive, the Sartans fumbled the ball away on the Aztec three-yard line.
That fumble set up the first Aztec touchdown. Harris took a screen pass from Crawford 78 yards for a touchdown with 11:50 remaining in the second quarter.
St. Pius fumbled again on the next drive. The Sartans fumbled three times in the game.
"We talked in the locker room before the game about making big plays and changing momentum early," Steinfeldt said. "We did that, and we finally capitalized on our opponents' mistakes."
Aztec built a 21-0 lead at halftime, and that lead grew to 42-0 after the third quarter. Crawford was 7-for-11 passing in the first half for 182 yards. Lewis-Adams totaled 94 rushing yards in the first half alone.
"We had a great rhythm. Crawford was seeing the field very well. He went through his progressions and found the open man," Steinfeldt said.
St. Pius (3-4) didn't score until the final minute of the game as the clock wound after Aztec got up 35-0.
Aztec didn't focus on playing at the home of the Lobos going into the game, but Steinfeldt said the team took a moment to enjoy their surroundings after the big win Friday night.
"We took a long hard moment to recognize that venue. It was a great experience for the boys to play there," Steinfeldt said.
The Tigers will have next week off before playing their District 1-4A opener on Oct. 25 at home against No. 5 Farmington High (6-1).
"There is no question we need this bye week. We can readdress some things schematically for district," Steinfeldt said. "Last year, we had two bye weeks, and we came off them very successful. We hope to do the same this year. FHS is a great opponent and have had a nice run through the preseason. The week off will definitely be put to good use preparing for them."
Kirtland Central 35, Capital 0
The surging Kirtland Central Broncos picked up another lopsided win on Friday.
The Broncos (5-1) defeated Capital (0-6) 35-0 on Friday night in Santa Fe.
"Our defense pitched another shutout. We played a pretty sloppy game, but I love our defense," said Kirtland Central head coach Kevin Graham.
Kirtland Central had two interceptions in the game. Reese Foutz and Davidson Wyatt came down with the two picks.
The Broncos forced a Capital punt on the first drive of the game. A few minutes later, Kirtland Central senior tight end Christian Mackey scored on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Rashaan Sorrelhorse.
Kirtland Central added another touchdown in the first quarter when Keishaun Aspaas broke a 30-yard run.
Foutz scored two more Kirtland touchdowns in the second quarter on receptions of 50 and 30 yards. The first pass was delivered by Sorrelhorse, and Jacob Flack threw the second touchdown pass.
"It makes us feel really good to see the passing game get three scores. We are getting more balanced," Graham said. "Guys can't stack up the box and just focus on our run now."
Kirtland's final touchdown came on a Sorrelhorse quarterback sneak in the third quarter. The Broncos watched the running clock tick away the rest of the game.
Graham was unhappy with his team's three fumbles and a few penalties on Friday night.
The Broncos will play one more non-district contest next week on the road at 3A Bloomfield (4-2).
"Kirtland and Bloomfield is a good rivalry game in our area. Throw the stats and records out the window when those two teams are getting after each other," Graham said. "It will be a good game. If we want to be successful, we have to cut down on our turnovers and the penalties we had this week."John Livingston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.