Socorro’s Andres Gonzales (72) and Kaden Dow eye a Raton running back’s fumble in the Warriors 27-21 win.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain photos

Just when you thought Socorro couldn’t win more dramatically, the Warriors said ‘hold our Gatorade’ and topped Raton in a Hollywood-style finish 27-21 win in overtime on Sept 22.

The win follows a 28-27 win two weeks ago against 5A Miyamura, and it also sends a message across 3-A football that the Warriors (5-1) are legitimate contenders for a state title run. There should be a good shakeup in the rankings after No. 1 Dexter got spanked 42-14 by No. 3 Robertson and went from contender to pretender.

It was a rollercoaster ride Friday night as Socorro fell behind early, 7-0, then established a 21-7 advantage only to have Raton tie the game at 21-21 with less than three minutes remaining.

Raton won the overtime coin toss, but the Tigers had their hopes dashed when Cenyon Scarborough picked off a second-down pass and gave Socorro its opportunity to put the game away.

The Warriors needed just one play to make that happen as quarterback Isaiah Ocampo went around the left side and scored untouched in front of a pair of defenders to seal the win.

While the contest’s outcome swung in Socorro’s direction, the Warriors had several miscues that breathed new life back into Raton drives, and a touchdown by Jojo Barber was nullified on a holding call.

“The kids played hard and consistently all night, but we had too many mistakes,” Socorro head coach Damien Ocampo said. “I thought they played hard. If this group could just cut the mistakes, I knew we would be making mistakes, but we are making too many mistakes.”

Cenyon Scarborough stiff arms his way off a Raton defender.

That’s not to take anything away from Raton’s performance as the Tigers took advantage of blown pass coverage to score on a 58-yard score. Still, Socorro fought back with a solid drive featuring runs by Scarborough, Isaiah Ocampo and a first-down catch by Jay Lee.

Ocampo then broke free for a 40-yard score to even up points following the first of Kaden Dow’s three extra-point kicks. Warriors defensive tackle Pete Lopez recovered a Tiger fumble on Raton’s ensuing drive to give Socorro a short field.

A four-yard touchdown reception by Lee put the Warriors on top, and the first of Alex Amaro’s two interceptions stopped Raton deep in Socorro territory, but the offense could not take advantage.

Amaro’s second pick came at Socorro’s six-yard line, but the Tigers returned the favor to stop the Warriors’s possession, only to have Socorro force a punt and end the first half.

“Raton has talent. They’re huge, and they’re physical. They don’t have much depth, but we don’t have much depth either,” coach Ocampo said.

On a night filled with highlights, Scarborough provided the biggest one during regulation play when he disappeared among those big bodies coach Ocampo was talking about and appeared to be stopped for an eight-yard gain.

The junior running back kept his legs churning, and no whistle was blown before he broke around the right side to score from 20 yards out and give the Warriors a 21-7 lead.

It appeared Socorro would make an uncomplicated night, with Lopez providing a big sack and Ocampo making a touchdown-saving tackle. Still, the Tigers kept plugging away, scoring on a 15-yard pass.

Socorro helped Raton’s efforts with several encroachment penalties, including a fourth-down call that extended the Tigers’ game-tying drive with two minutes remaining. The Tigers picked off their second pass of the evening to stall Socorro’s hurry-up offense, but the only thing left for Raton to win was the coin toss before the Warriors rose to the occasion.

While coach Ocampo agreed his Warriors are in the mix regarding a playoff run, he, his coaching staff, and the players need to cut down on the miscues.

“We’re making too many mistakes to be in the top four right now. We’re there talent-wise, just like Saint Michael’s. We have a lot of young talent,” coach Ocampo said.

With the Warriors hosting 4A Gallup for homecoming this week, plenty of distractions surround the game. There was powder-puff volleyball on Monday, powder-puff football on Tuesday, and more, but for coach Ocampo, it’s all part of the high school experience he wants his players to enjoy. He even participated in a volleyball tournament in the teachers versus junior class (student class winners).

“I’m big into homecoming—the kids like having a great time. And I’m big into them. I mean, these are their high school experiences, and they’re going to go out and play hard, and usually, the problem with homecoming is the number of mental mistakes like increases like times 10,” Ocampo said. “But you know, these guys care, it’s just, I have got to do a better job coaching.”

Isaiah Ocampo was 9-17 passing for the Warriors for 101 yards and added 112 yards on 13 carries to lead Socorro’s rushing. He got solid support on the ground, with Scarbrough adding 47 yards on seven rushes, and Chris Boykin had 34 on six carries.

Amaro was Socorro’s top receiver with five catches for 65 yards, Lee snared three for 18 yards, and Barba had one reception for 18 yards.