Socorro’s Jay Lee pulls down a game-sealing interception against Hope Christian.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain photos

A week after having a rough game, Socorro wide receiver and cornerback Jay Lee had the kind of game players dream about. The sophomore snagged 11 receptions, caught a touchdown, and sealed a 29-21 win for the Warriors over Hope Christian with an acrobatic interception.

The win moves the No. 4 Warriors to 3-1 on the year, but it was a rocky victory with mistakes on both sides of the football, allowing Hope to come back from a 14-0 disadvantage to tie the game in the third quarter at 21-21.

The frustration began early with Warriors head coach Damien Ocampo calling a timeout minutes into the contest because of communication problems.

“I think we didn’t execute at times and it’s hard to beat a good team, especially when we had some calls go against us tonight that really put us in rough water. We had a couple of mistakes on the field and a couple mistakes on my part,” Ocampo said.

The No. 9 Huskies threw a different defensive look at Socorro, and it led to some miscues on offense, and quarterback Isaiah Ocampo’s offensive line broke down in spots. The resulting sacks left the Warriors in deep holes at times, and one high snap on a punt led to a gimmie touchdown for the Huskies.

“Hope came out in a brand-new defense. They came out with totally different stuff than we’ve seen, and we’re missing one of our starters up front, which kind of messed us up a little bit. But on film, these guys are going to see that it was bad. We just really didn’t do a good job at times and certain things. We have got a lot of stuff to get better at,” Ocampo said.

Socorro did good things, too, as the Warriors forced a punt and used a sustained drive to set up their first score of the night. Kenyon Scarborough notched a solid five-yard run, and Lee caught the first of several first-down receptions. Ocampo set up his first scoring pass of the evening when he ran the ball to the Hope 10-yard line.

The junior quarterback found Lee (11-113) in traffic, and the sophomore broke tackles before stretching out and breaking the plane of the goal line and a 6-0 lead.

Freshman middle linebacker Chris Boykin jumped on a loose ball for a fumble recovery on the Huskies’ next possession and set up a short field for the Warriors’ offense. Ocampo took quick advantage as he linked up with senior wide receiver Kaden Dow and made good on the second of his four extra-point kicks through the uprights following the play.

Ocampo picked off a Huskie pass, but the Warriors were unable to capitalize on the turnover, and Hope used the momentum to pull to within a touchdown via a 35-yard run with 9:58 to play in the second quarter.

The Warriors quickly ran into trouble on their ensuing drive following a first-down pass from Ocampo to senior Alex Amaro. Ocampo was dropped for a 13-yard loss, and his father showed a willingness to gamble when he sent in a halfback pass play that Scarborough threw back to Ocampo for a big gain.

Coach Ocampo followed that up by throwing the dice once again with a fourth down call and Ocampo connecting with Lee for a first down. The Warriors would give up another sack, but Ocampo dug Socorro out of the hole with a dazzling 20-yard run before linking up with Lee for a 15-yard gain that set up the quarterback’s 10-yard scoring run.

For those watching, it was hard to tell if the Warriors were doing a little gambling or gunslinging when it came to attacking the Huskie’s defense on fourth down, but as Ocampo explains, it was more about instilling confidence in his athletes.

“I want these guys to know that I’m attacking. I want them to know I believe in them, and we’re going to move the ball,” Ocampo said. “Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t, but I want them to know I’m not going to be gun shy.”

The Warriors would need that shot of confidence when the Huskies roared back in with a late second-quarter score. Socorro had itself to blame with an offside call on fourth down gave the Huskies new life on one drive.

A high snap on a punt play set up the Huskies to knot the score at 21-21 with 4:48 in the third quarter.

The Warriors would tally the final score with Ocampo linking up with Amaro on a 10-yard touchdown. Ironically, a second high-snap followed on the extra point kick, but Amaro pulled down the ball and snaked into the end zone to give the Warriors an eight-point edge.

The game was far from over, but the Warriors stopped a desperate fourth down attempt by Hope, and Lee’s high-jump interception stopped the Huskie’s final drive.

“They put a different defense in front of us, and it was smart on their part because they’re athletic. They’re big and fast and athletic. We were lucky we jumped on them early with the two scores,” Ocampo said.

Ocampo’s night under center was a big one as he linked up with three different receivers for scores, was 16-25 for 16 yards passing and added 103 yards on the ground off 18 carries.

Socorro will be at home Friday for a 7 p.m. game against No. 5 Rotan (2-2). The Tigers have bounced back from an 0-2 start with a 41-8 win over Trinidad and shutout Tucumcari last week 41-0. Rotan is much better than its 2-2 record indicates with its two losses against 3-0 Guymon (OK) and 4-0 Eunice.