Man­zano pounces on Rio Rancho to ad­vance

Mon­archs move on to play No. 1 Storm

Albuquerque Journal - - HIGH SCHOOLS - BY TRIS­TEN CRITCHFIELD

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.”

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