Steers refuse to let rain or Mustangs slow down their offense

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After the Magdalena season-opener at Escalante turned into somewhat of a nightmare for first year head coach Billy Page and his squad, the Steers were in need of some type of mojo boost on Friday evening when Ramah came to town.

Magdalena got just what it needed and then some, as it dominated the game’s second half and cruised to a 37-20 win over the Mustangs.

After the Steers could muster only eight points against the Lobos in a lopsided 46-point loss two weekends ago, an early touchdown against Ramah would have been inspiring for a team looking to gain an early foothold on the young season.

Senior quarterback Dylan Julian had the cure for whatever might have been ailing the Mag offense.

During a lengthy opening drive on the rain-socked field, a heavy dose of Julian and sophomore running back Barak Stephens helped set the tone for the evening as the Steers knocked more than six minutes off the clock. The 66-yard drive was capped off by a Julian touchdown from inside 10 yards, and then he added the 2-point conversion to make the score 8-0 with 5:38 left in the opening quarter. It was exactly what Magdalena needed to build some confidence.

“It was so important,” Page said. “Anytime you can get a good start and jump on a team like that, it’s gonna be to our benefit. I felt like that first drive set the tone for the whole game.”

But Ramah was seemingly undeterred, and on their first offensive possession the Mustangs struck right back with a touchdown of their own. Senior Tyrell Morgan blazed 52 yards on a quarterback option keeper just one minute later to get Ramah to within two. Their 2-point conversion attempt failed.

Then, even in the relentless cold mountain drizzle, the fireworks started going off.

On the ensuing kickoff, Stephens took the ball off of a triple fake reverse option and sprinted 80 yards down the Steers sideline for a touchdown. Dre Montoya extended the Mag lead to 16-6 after converting the 2-point try.

But the Mustangs wouldn’t go away.

On a second and 11 from its own 40 yard line, Ramah’s senior wideout Matthew Barton reeled in a 34-yard bomb from Morgan to move to the Magdalena 26 yard line. A personal foul on the Steers gave the Mustangs a first-and-goal from the 10, and Morgan ran it in two plays later to cut the lead to 16-12 with 1:34 still left in the first quarter.

Senior running back Tyrell Daniels was stopped on the conversion attempt.

Then with about four minutes left in the half, a helmet-to-helmet collision gave the Mustangs another first-and-goal chance, and Morgan hit senior Sombrecio Monetatchi on a pass toward the right sideline to give Ramah a 20-16 lead after a successful 2-point conversion try.

But Magdalena wasn’t about to roll over either.

On the Steers next possession, Julian converted two crucial passes in third-and-long situations to keep the drive alive, and on first-and-goal from the 10 yard line with just 41 seconds left in the first half, Stephens ran it in from 10 yards out for the go-ahead score. As they say, Magdalena had the big “Mo” on its side heading into the locker room.

Page said he and his staff knew momentum was on their side.

“Going in at halftime and coming up ahead, our kids were excited. It’s big, especially in high school football,” Page said.

That touchdown before the half was all the Steers would need to win, as the defense stepped it up in the second half. Twice the Mustangs drove to within 16 yards of the Magdalena end zone, and twice they were turned away with no points. Montoya also picked off a Morgan pass to end a Mustangs drive.

Then as the night drizzle turned into a torrential downpour, the Steers rained down some offense that all but sealed the deal.

With 52 seconds remaining in the third quarter and backed up at his own 14, Julian hit Stephens on a wheel route out of the backfield for an 86-yard touchdown bomb. After another Ramah turnover, the veteran quarterback put the exclamation point on with a 4-yard touchdown run with just less than seven minutes left in the game.

“Dylan reads the option so well. That’s one of the reasons why he’s there,” Page said. “Barak’s probably our fastest kid. They understand the option. The relationship they have, they just run it really well.”

Page said he hopes to shore up some execution issues on the offensive line, but nothing he saw during Friday’s game can’t be fixed. “Our boys are really proud that they moved the ball,” Page said. “We stuck to our game plan.”

The Mora game scheduled for next week has been canceled, so the Steers will next hit the gridiron when they travel to Hatch on Sept. 21 to take on the Hatch Valley Bears.