In the span of a week, the Ignacio High School football team had to find a last-minute opponent, overcome injuries and had to deal with all of the emotions that come with an overtime game, but that never stopped the Bobcats from giving in.
Ignacio (1-0) overcame all of that and more in a 26-20 overtime victory over Bloomfield High School’s junior varsity squad on Saturday at IHS, as the Bobcats came back from an eight-point halftime deficit to claim the season-opening win.
“They were great,” said IHS running back Joe Garcia. “All of us, we all played as one mind, together as a team. And no matter what happened we were happy. Win, lose or draw.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Bloomfield got on the board first, after quarterback Raymundo Alcantar found Mauricio Toledo for a 21-yard touchdown pass, Ayden Reinhardt ran in the two-point conversion to go up 8-0 with 10:27 left in the first half. That was the score heading into halftime, and while the Bobcats knew they had work to do, Ignacio wide receiver Colten Jackson was not fazed.
“I think we just got our momentum back together, honestly,” Jackson said. “We came back together as a team – we weren’t fighting as much – and I think we weren’t a ‘team’ during the first two quarters because we were going after each other, bringing each other down if we had penalties. But after halftime we got together like, ‘We can do this, boys. Let’s keep pushing.’”
Senior quarterback Ian Weinreich was able to manage his nerves, and despite the scoreboard being in Bloomfield’s favor, he knew all that was needed was a touchdown.
“No, it was 8-0, so we’d need just one touchdown, and we’ve got a whole half to do it,” Weinreich said.
The quarterback was the catalyst, and after Ignacio’s defense forced its first three-and-out of the third quarter, Weinreich went to work. He led a 5-play 60-yard drive, and topped it off with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jackson, and Shawn Campbell kicked the point after to make it 8-7 with 8:30 left in the quarter.
After Bloomfield had another three-and-out, and a failed fake punt on fourth down, Ignacio took over at Bloomfield’s 34-yard line with 7:31 left in the third. The Bobcats made the most of a short field and Weinreich hit Dylan Labarthe for a 13-yard pitch-and-catch touchdown, and after a PAT, Ignacio led 14-8. IHS had to battle its emotions after it lost Toledo on the final play of the quarter, but IHS dug deep.
“We came back together, you know?” Jackson said. “Our family gets hurt, we push even harder – we’ve got to fight for them and we’ve got to win the game for them. That’s just how we are; we’re a big family and we’ve got to fight for our family. Even if they’re hurt we’ve got to go out there and do everything we can for them.”
Garcia capped off a 6-play, 53-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown plunge, which gave the Bobcats a 20-8 lead after the first possession of the final quarter.
Bloomfield was not finished though, as Alcantar led his Bobcats on a quick 7-play, 43-yard drive that took just 1:43 off of the clock, and topped it off with a 13-yard strike to Marc Armenta which made it 20-14. IHS had a bad snap on its ensuing punt attempt, and Bloomfield took over at the IHS 24 with 3:38 left. That was more than enough time for Alcantar to find Reinhardt for his lone catch of the day, a 27-yard touchdown reception that tied the game at 20 with 3:11 to go.
Bloomfield nearly completed a last-minute drive, but Garcia stepped into the left flat and picked off Alcantar after he drove Bloomfield to Ignacio’s 21-yard line.
IHS won the overtime coin toss, and opted to put its offense on the field first. On the very first play of overtime, Weinreich lobbed a ball to the near right corner of the end zone, where Jackson caught the pass in stride for his second touchdown of the afternoon. While Garcia missed the conversion, Ignacio had momentum.
On Bloomfield’s overtime possession, Alcantar was tackled for losses on first and second down, including a seven-yard sack from Tyler Barnes, while his third-down pass was incomplete. With the game on the line, Ignacio’s defense answered the bell. Garcia made the game-winning sack to seal it.
“The last play of the game to seal it, I shot the D-gap for the blitz,” Weinreich said. “And so then (Alcantar) saw me, went the other way, and Joe was right there to smack him. So it worked out good.”
Weinreich led the Bobcats as he went 10-of-19 for 101 yards, threw for three touchdowns and one interception. Garcia led the Bobcats on the ground with 16 carries for 73 yards and a touchdown, while Labarthe had 10 carries for 41 yards. Alcantar finished 16-of-39 for 177 yards and also threw three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Ignacio will look to continue its early-season momentum with a matchup against Newcomb (1-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at Ignacio High school.