Dexter senior lineman Dante Reyes hoists the “Battle of the Bridges” trophy after the Demons’ 49-0 victory over the rival Hagerman Bobcats Friday night in Dexter. (AJ Dickman Photo)
The Dexter Demons once again showed their defensive prowess in a 49-0 dismantling of their rivals from across the Felix River, the Hagerman Bobcats, Friday night in Dexter.
In the 45th meeting between the teams, and the first with the new “Battle of the Bridges” trophy on the line, the stands were packed on both sides as the Bobcats received the opening kickoff and came out firing with a long completion from sophomore quarterback Jakob Bejarano to senior receiver Isaac Morales.
But the Bobcats collapse began after the big play as the offense moved in the wrong direction on consecutive false starts, followed by a Dante Reyes sack.
After Dexter’s Nick Cobos broke up a third-and-long pass, the Bobcats were forced to punt.
Dexter began their first possession with a couple Gabino Rodriguez runs to pick up a first down, but two short gains and an incomplete pass later and the Demons were punting.
The Bobcats failed to move the ball on the second possession as the Demons chased Bejarano around the backfield, giving him little room to run and little time to find his targets.
“I didn’t do a good job,” said Hagerman’s first-year head coach Kris Foust. “It’s on me. I didn’t prepare them well enough. Dexter’s coaches and players did a great job and they kicked our [auth] butts.”
The Demons took over at midfield, where sophomore quarterback Jarren Amaro found junior tight end Izak Aguilar down the right sideline for a big gain to the Hagerman 5-yard line.
On the next play, Rodriguez took the handoff left and stiff armed one defender before falling across the goal line as Hagerman’s Andres Arebalos tried to wrap up his legs.
Dexter senior kicker Eduardo Padilla, a first-time football player, put the ball through the uprights to give the Demons a 7-0 lead with four minutes left in the first quarter.
The Bobcats quickly found themselves in another fourth-down situation, but Bejarano found Morales again for a first down.
A Dominic Flores sack and an incomplete pass brought up another fourth down for the Bobcats and this time, senior lineman Dayton Harris busted through the Hagerman line and took down Bejarano to return possession to the Demons.
The teams traded turnovers as Amaro’s deep pass was picked off and then soon after, the Bobcats fumbled.
With the ball deep in Hagerman territory, the Demons handed off to Cobos, who hurdled a Bobcat defender to pick up a first down at the 13-yard line. On the ensuing play, Amaro found Aguilar wide open on the left side of the end zone for the score.
“(Amaro) makes good decisions,” said Dexter head coach Kevin Graham. “He plays like he’s been there forever and he has. He’s played quarterback all his life. He’s just a sophomore, but he don’t act like one.”
With a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter, the Demon defense stayed after Bejarano, forcing another fourth-and-long.
Amaro found his tight end, Noe Landaverde, open in the flat for a big first down to the Hagerman 20, but the quarterback mishandled a snap and was tripped up on a keeper, eventually bringing up fourth-and-long.
Amaro threw incomplete, but a personal foul penalty against the Bobcats gave the Demons a first down at the 5-yard line, where Rodriguez plowed across the goal line to put Dexter up 20-0, an advantage they’d take into the half.
In the second half, the Demons wore down the Bobcats with steady doses Cobos and Rodriguez, the latter of which bullied his way into the end zone early in the third quarter, putting Dexter up 28-0.
“We did it as a team,” Rodriguez said after the game. “I love my line. They take care of me and I take care of them.”
On the Bobcats’ next possession, Rodriguez jumped the passing route, picked off Bejarno, made a man miss and then trotted in for his fourth touchdown of the night.
The Bobcats only threatened to score once during the second half, but a fumble ended the promising drive, as Reyes came up with the ball and emphatically returned it to his own sideline.
The Demons scored twice more on rushes from Hernan Gonzales and Jonah Chavez to nearly end the game by the 50-point mercy rule.
After the game, Foust said he was proud of his young quarterback’s resolve and grit.
“He took some big shots and just kept getting up,” he said. “He didn’t get down on himself or his team. He did his best to stay positive. I was telling him all night, ‘Other than Franklin, you’ve got a very young line.”
Foust said his team will lick their wounds briefly before getting back to work to prepare for Ft. Sumner next week.
“This one hurts,” he said. “I told them to go home and think about it, but tomorrow we’re back at it. The goal is still a district title. It will be nice to finally play some 2A schools.”
Graham said despite the offensive output, his team is still trying to find their identity on that side of the ball.
“Tonight we were able to run the ball with some success, but didn’t throw very well,” he said. “We need a more balanced mixture.”
Graham said it feels good to take home the new trophy for the first time ever.
“I thought it was electric tonight,” he said. “We had two great crowds. It’s been a great week. We’re ready to move down the road and keep taking steps to get better as a team.”
The Demons welcome the Tucumcari Rattlers to Demon Field Friday for a 7 p.m. kickoff before starting a three-week road trip against some of the top 3A and 4A teams in the state.