MOSCA — A clear and sunny day shone on homecoming weekend for Sangre de Cristo. The host Thunderbirds (1-1) overcame a slow start on Saturday to defeat Las Animas (0-2) 42-26. With the win, Sangre de Cristo broke a skid that dated back to September 9th, 2017. On that day Sangre de Cristo put up a 46-14 victory over Custer County.
Saturday’s game was a defensive struggle in the early going, the two teams trading possessions with three punts and a turnover-on-downs in the first four drives. Las Animas found their legs first with Markus Vigil slipping in from 9 and 19 yards out on back to back drives to put the visiting Trojans up 14-0. Early in the second quarter, a long punt return from Mario Enriquez was further extended by a horse-collar penalty putting Sangre at the 14-yard line. A facemask on the ensuing play and the T-Birds were just 8 yards out. Zebulon Stephens found Enriquez on a corner route to put the host Thunderbirds on the board, a failed two-point conversion made the score 14-6.
After forcing a punt Sangre would go back on the offensive at the Trojan 46-yard line, 6 plays later and Stephens would take it in for a 1-yard score. Sangre would convert on the 2-point conversion and the game was tied at 14-14 apiece.
With time winding down in the half another Sangre drive would begin in Las Animas territory. The T-Birds drove 17 yards in a minute in a half to take their first lead of the game courtesy of another Stephens–Enriquez corner route to the end zone. When the halftime buzzer sounded Sangre owned a 20-14 lead.
Las Animas’ second possession back from the break began thanks to a fumble from Sangre de Cristo. The Trojans took it and drove it down the field capping the drive with Justin Miller running it in, tying the game at 20 points each.
With the score tied the defenses stepped back up, the next three series contained two fumbles and a punt. When the dust settled Sangre de Cristo had the ball at the Las Animas 36 with five minutes and change left to play in the third. On the first play from scrimmage, Stephens optioned to Craig Ford who shed would-be-tacklers on his way to the go-ahead score. A 2-point attempt succeeded and SDC was back out in front 28-20.
The Sangre score prompted an answer that came swiftly, the next possession and the Trojans drove it right down the field for a Markus Vigil to Nick Chavez score to make it a 2-point game at 28-26. In a game marked by turnovers, it was Sangre de Cristo that got the one that counted, a fumble recovery by Owen McColm with 2 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
The T-Birds drove the extra possession down to the 2-yard line. The handoff went to Austin Sierra from two yards out who bulldozed Las Animas’ Miller for the score, that with the successful 2-point attempt and Sangre de Cristo led 34-26.
On the ensuing kickoff, Sangre de Cristo’s Ford added some icing on the win with a strip and score to finalize the tally at 42-26 in Sangre’s favor. The T-Birds will savor the win before preparing for a challenge. Sangre de Cristo will welcome league opponent Sanford on Saturday, Sept. 21. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.