Darrell Patterson/Hobbs News-Sun
A pair of Lovington players celebrate during the
Wildcats' win over Hobbs on Friday in Hobbs.
There was 428 yards of offense combined (Hobbs 238, Lovington 190) as both teams showed they have flaws moving the ball.
Hobbs was painfully one dimensional. With a sophomore quarterback making his first varsity start in Kolin Zembas (who looked pretty good all things considered), it was apparent Hobbs was going to keep the ball on the ground – nothing new for a Bruce Dollar coached team. But with the Eagles' only backfield threat being Aderiole Moore, the Wildcat defense loaded the box (sometimes with nine players) and started just rushing toward the senior running back as soon as the ball was snapped. In the second half Moore usually had a hand or two on him in the backfield before he could get moving, leading to 20 carries for just 49 yards in the second half after carving up Lovington for 100 yards on 12 carries in the first half.
While the Hobbs offense stalled after two first-quarter touchdowns, it didn't turn the ball over until its last play on offense in triple overtime – a big improvement after 21 turnovers in the first six games.
But key miscues cost Hobbs this game – touching a punt that Lovington recovered in the first quarter that led to a Wildcat field goal, a Lovington punt that was allowed to bounce and roll nearly 25 yards to the Hobbs 1 (leading to a safety) and missed tackles on David Robles' punt return for a touchdown. These are three plays that equal 11 of Lovington's 14 points in regulation.
Lovington was far from sharp and should feel fortunate to walk away from Watson Stadium with the win. The Wildcats turned the ball over four times (three interceptions, one fumble) and never gained any momentum offensively, leading to less than 200 yards of offense. As News-Sun sportswriter Brad Cox researched, it was the first time since Sept. 28, 2007, Lovington's offense didn't score a touchdown in regulation (that game, funny enough, was against Hobbs).
Lovington switched quarterbacks throughout the contest as neither Robles or Zach Molinar gained traction in regulation. Robles came up clutch in the overtime periods, however, including the fourth-and-goal touchdown pass on the run from 12 yards out in the first overtime that saved the game for the Wildcats.
While Lovington's defense is solid, the offense is going to be the key if the Wildcats want to hang their third consecutive state championship banner.