Rivalry ends in Varsity Royal victory

Varsity: Armijo 18, Fairfield 12; JV: Armijo 0, Fairfield 27

A+week+before+conquering+the+Falcons%2C+the+Royals+developed+strength+and+humility+against+Vanden.

Aldo

A week before conquering the Falcons, the Royals developed strength and humility against Vanden.

Mr. DJ Bowen, Football Coach

Varsity game: Armijo 18, Fairfield 12

The 2022 edition of The Rivalry Without a Name featured several game changing moments in the second half, including a game-winning Royals touchdown as the clock struck zero.

The first half featured a 14-yard rushing touchdown by Kymani Barker, an interception by senior Kaiba Washington, and a game-tying touchdown by the Falcons on their final drive. The score was 6-6 heading into the break.

The intense play began halfway through the third quarter when the Royals had a failed snap on a punt deep in their own territory. With Fairfield needing only 10 yards to take the lead and all the momentum, the Armijo defense stood strong. On 3rd and 8, senior defensive end Jesus Minguia came up with a game-altering sack, pushing the Falcons offense back 10 yards and into a precarious field goal position. The kick that followed may go down as one of the weirdest in recent memory as the ball directly struck the center of the crossbar on the goalposts and bounced nearly straight up and landed in the end zone, yielding no points for the offense.

The Armijo defense played on fire for the rest of the game, forcing a punt and causing two more fumbles, one recovered by senior linebacker Jacob Winzer and another by junior defensive end Jordan Brown.

The drama did not end there, though. Only three offensive plays later, in almost the exact same spot on the field, the Armijo punt team was called into action again. This time, sophomore Abraham Martinez got off a successful punt, putting the Fairfield offense near midfield.

After a few more changes in possession, midway through the fourth quarter in a tied game, Fairfield lined up to punt and Washington, in his last game in a Royals uniform, produced a special moment. He caught the punt and with blockers sealing the route ahead, he raced 75 yards untouched for the leading touchdown.

In Fairfield’s final offensive possession, Armijo’s defense produced its third turnover of the game. You might think that the game was wrapped up by then, but you’d be wrong.

Armijo’s offense had the ball, a 12-6 lead, was on the attacking side of the field, and only a minute to play in the game. On 4th and 9, instead of risking another bad snap on a punt, the offense went for the 1st down to end the game, and that’s when things went awry. Intense pressure in the backfield caused quarterback Willie Nickson to try to get off a pass attempt under duress and he flung the ball into the arms of an oncoming Falcons defender who returned the interception 60 yards for the game-tying score.

This time, the Armijo special teams unit needed to stifle the Falcons extra point attempt or risk losing the game. Brown and junior Jace Harris predicted the snap count and were all over the holder of the kick before they could even get a kick off and the game remained tied.

Nickson was probably upset about the interception, but he didn’t show it on the ensuing game-winning drive. Needing 94 yards to win the game in under 50 seconds, the Royals offense was undeterred. Nickson scrambled for 16 yards to get out from the shadow of their own end zone. Then he connected on a 6-yard sideline route to Harris. Following this was the next heart-stopping moment when a mis-run route led to Nickson throwing the ball directly into the chest of a Falcons defender who dropped the potential interception.

With the clock stopped, Nickson tossed an 11-yard completion to Washington. With only 12 seconds to go, the game tied 12-12, and 61 yards to the end zone, it looked like the game was headed to overtime. However, an outside vertical route to Washington connected for a huge 43-yard gain.

Only two seconds and 18 yards separated the Royals from a legendary victory and an overtime period. Nickson took the game into his own hands, literally. Not finding any receivers open and the buzzer already at zero, he decided to roll to his left and get to the end zone himself. At the 7-yard line, a Fairfield defender met him, but he hurdled over him. Another Falcon met him near the 4-yard line, before two more came. Just at the moment when it looked like he might be stopped short, Washington was there to give him the little push he needed to cross the goal line and secure the 18-12 victory.

JV game: Fairfield 27, Armijo 0

In a game that started out shaky for the visiting Royals, the defensive strength of their team shone through in a tough 27-0 loss to Fairfield to end the season. Armijo’s JV team finished with wins against Center and Dixon, and a 2-8 record.

Fairfield opened the game on offense, scoring on a 9-play, 82-yard drive. They immediately followed this with a successful onside kickoff and threatened to score again. The Armijo defense would hold strong on this occasion with Toa Atuatasi ending the red zone threat with a 9-yard sack, followed up by Bo Anderson scooping up the loose ball.

Armijo’s offense was finally able to touch the ball near the end of the 1st quarter, but punted it back after 3 snaps. The Royals were only able to run 9 offensive plays in the half.

Following a Falcons TD drive on their next possession in the 2nd quarter, extending the lead to 14-0, no team would score again until late into the fourth quarter.

Armijo’s defense would hold the Falcon offense to only one first down, no scores, and Amontay Overstreet even nabbed an interception across the next four possessions. Unfortunately the offense couldn’t match the success, turning it over four times in their eight possessions including a momentum-killing “pick 6” late in the fourth quarter, essentially putting the game out of reach at 21-0. Fairfield would add an additional passing TD just before time expired.

Offensively, Overstreet was the standout performer, catching four balls from quarterback Camarri Hayes for 48 yds.

Defensively, 14 different players recorded a tackle. TJ Harrell led the way with six tackles. Linebacker E’Carri Jones tallied five tackles, as many as Atuatasi, who nipped a second sack later in the game. Eric Jones stopped four Falcons from his cornerback position and Juan Usacanga had three tackles, including two for a loss.