FARMINGTON — Gary Bradley preaches the importance of the fourth quarter to his team each season.
After the season opener, the Farmington High head coach's point hit home for the Scorpions as the 2013 4A champs rallied with two touchdowns in the final two drives to escape with a 13-10 victory against No. 3 Los Lunas on Friday night at Hutchison Stadium.
Through three quarters, nothing went right for the Scorps (1-0) as they battled the Tigers (0-1).
FHS fumbled four times, losing two of them, and struggled with penalties as Los Lunas built up a 10-0 lead.
"It was just so uncharacteristic, even though it was the first game," Bradley said. "Everybody is trying to find an identity, but that's just not Scorpion football. But all year long, we talk about the fourth quarter. We play that fourth quarter in the weight room, and we play that fourth quarter out here during conditioning."
In their first drive of the fourth, the Scorps came out with a different mentality. Danny Simkins busted a 24-yard run on the first play, running through a pair of Tigers' plays.
FHS made its first trip into the red zone a few plays later when Avery Rasher adjusted to an underthrown pass from quarterback Diego Elebario for a 33-yard gain to the Tiger 15-yard line.
Elebario scored two plays later on a nine-yard run in which he avoided multiple Los Lunas players in the backfield, cutting the Tigers' lead to 10-6 with 7:16 left in the game.
The Scorps defense quickly got the ball back for the offense after holding the Tigers on three plays.
"When momentum changes, it's a tricky thing," Los Lunas coach Terrell Trantham said. "We've got a young team, and we're just learning. I thought they dealt with adversity pretty well, but there was just too much too handle."
FHS went back to work as Elebario and Chayton Salcido wore down the Tigers' defense on a 10-play, 76-yard drive.
"We started playing like a team, and that's all we needed to do," said Salcido, who ran for 105 yards on 13 carries in the win. "We finally figured that out in the fourth quarter."
Elebario capped the drive off by scoring on a one-yard sneak for his second touchdown of the game to give the Scorps a 13-10 lead with 1:57 remaining in the game.
"We just needed to step it up, and I couldn't have done it without the lines," Elebario said of the scores.
Los Lunas had a final shot to tie or take the lead, but the Scorpions' defense held strong, stopping the Tigers a few inches short of a first down on fourth down at the Los Lunas 42-yard line.
"What's incredible is that we didn't play good, and we got a victory," Bradley said.
The Tigers had everything going their way in the opening half as FHS struggled to contain Los Lunas sophomore O'Maury Samuels.
The Tigers' running back opened the scoring by breaking a 44-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to give Los Lunas the 7-0 lead.
Samuels later added a 33-yard run in the quarter to put the Tigers in range for a 21-yard field goal just before halftime as Los Lunas took a 10-0 lead into the locker room.
In the second half, FHS did a better job keeping Samuels contained. After running for 117 yards in the first half, Samuels only gained 30 yards on nine carries in the final two quarters.
"I think we'll go back to the drawing board and make sure we're doing the right thing," Bradley said. "He's a solid-looking kid, but it seemed like we were bunched up in places."
Both teams will continue their seasons next Friday.
Farmington will host former district rival Kirtland Central, which lost its opener to Bayfield, Colo., 48-6. Los Lunas will travel to Alamogordo.
"Kirtland is really well coached, and they played well against us last year," Bradley said.