Manzano pounces on Rio Rancho to advance
Monarchs move on to play No. 1 Storm
Lightning, then thunder, was the winning formula for Manzano on Friday night.
Austin Erickson scored three touchdowns early and Xavier Ivey-Saud shouldered the burden on the ground late as the No. 8 Monarchs defeated No. 9 Rio Rancho 40-14 in a Class 6A first round matchup at Wilson Stadium on Friday night.
After Rio Rancho fumbled in Manzano territory on its first drive, the Monarchs marched down the field and took a 6-0 lead when Erickson scored on a 13-yard option pitch. Following a Rams punt, Dakota Powell found Erickson for an 18-yard touchdown pass to put the Monarchs up 12-0.
Rio Rancho (4-7) cut the deficit to 12-7 when Isaiah Chavez hit Ethan Hampsten with a backshoulder throw in the end zone from 10 yards out following a muffed punt by the Monarchs. The Rams had little time to enjoy the moment, however, as Powell connected with Erickson for a 68-yard score on first play of Manzano’s next drive.
“It was exciting to see him make those big plays tonight,” Manzano coach Phillip Martinez said of Erickson. “He’s been working hard and it’s been paying off.”
Powell finished with four touchdown passes on the night — two to Erickson and two more to Jack Blankenship. While the passing game was clicking, the Monarchs relied on Ivey-Saud to be their closer.
The bruising senior running back finished with more than 200 yards on the night, including 51 on a back-breaking third quarter drive that concluded with a 10-yard Ivey-Saud score to put Manzano up 33-14.
“Our focus was blocking and tackling. The O-line did a great job blocking,” Martinez said. “That’s awesome for him to get that achievement (over 200 yards) and a credit to the O-line.”
Manzano (7-4) advances to play top-seeded Cleveland (10-0) on the Storm’s home field next weekend.
“Cleveland’s a great team,” Martinez said. “They’re well coached. They’re big and they play hard. They’re No. 1 for a reason. We’re excited for the opportunity to play them on their home field. Hopefully we’ll give them a good game.”