Despite pass interference on the play, receiver Caden Moreland caught a TD. 
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain photos

No 1. Socorro made mistakes, and No. 4 Saint Michael’s took advantage in their Class 3A state football semifinal matchup on Nov. 18, as the Horsemen rode away with a 14-6 win over the Warriors at Eddie Castaneda Field.

Down three coaches due to other obligations, the Warriors (11-1) also suffered some communication problems that forced them to burn through their allotted time-outs, and it would come back to haunt Socorro after the Horsemen (11-1) broke a 6-6 tie with just 2:06 remaining.

Marcus Armijo provided an in-your-face pass defense on this play.

The two teams exchanged punts to open the game, and the Horsemen used a big sweep play to get to the Socorro 14-yard line before punching the ball in from three yards out. The Warriors forced an overthrow on the extra-points pass.

It appeared Socorro was going to return the favor with Marcus Armijo hooking up with Caden Moreland on a pass completion, and the light-footed Brian Armijo danced his way to a first down. Set up with a first down at the Horsemen’s 25-yard line, the Warriors would lose control of the ball, and St. Michael’s came away with the recovery.

“On defense, I thought we played pretty well other than a couple of plays, and on offense, I felt like we kind of struggled with a couple of things,” Socorro head coach Damien Ocampo said. “Running the ball, and then some of our passing stuff was open, and we didn’t get it there, or we didn’t have time to get it there.”

Marcus Armijo played under constant pressure and didn’t get many opportunities to set up the long ball, and St. Michael’s benefitted from several penalty calls against the Warriors.

The game settled into a defensive slugfest for the remainder of the first half, but Socorro had its opportunities as the Warriors got into the red zone twice before giving up the ball on downs. Socorro managed to get its second chance to the Horsemen’s 13 before stalling.

It appeared the Warriors had made the correct adjustments in the halftime locker room as Damien Greenwood picked up a first down, and a swing pass reception by Alex Amaro netted big yardage.

Coach Damien Ocampo hugs senior linebacker Brian Armijo following the Warriors’ loss.

Armijo pulled down the ball, crashed his way to the Horsemen’s 24, and then put the ball up for Moreland in front of the end zone for a score. Despite being interfered with on the play, the senior wide receiver juggled with the defender before pulling in the ball for the touchdown.

The Warriors’ chance to take the lead leaked away on a low snap, and placekicker Kaden Dow never got a chance at his boot.

“We had a couple of key mishaps, a couple of balls on the ground, and turnovers, and we hurt ourselves out there,” Ocampo said.

With each tick off the clock, it began to feel like the team that put the next touchdown on the scoreboard was going to walk away as the winner.

Once the Warriors got the ball back, they were without any timeouts, and the rushed atmosphere led to a fumble that closed out the contest.

Ocampo reflected on his seniors, who finished the regular season 10-0 and 11-1 overall.

The group never lost a district game in extend￾ing Socorro’s district title streak to five.

“What a great group these guys are – these guys are the real deal – so many talented, tough football players. I mean, they’re just good kids. Tough and hard-nosed players,” Ocampo said.

The Warriors’ seniors include Warren Chewiwi, Warren Kurtnaker, Colton Dow, Caden Moreland, Marcus Armijo, Garrick Gutierrez, Brian Armijo, Xamien Aguilar, Angel Whitt, Nathan Nunez, Daniel Cabrera and Damien Greenwood.

Predicting the Class 3A semi-finals appeared to be anybody’s guess, and it boiled down to the top teams and the least number of mistakes for the remaining four teams.

On the opposite side of the bracket, No. 2 Ruidoso squeaked by No. 6 Raton 21-20 to advance to face St. Michael’s in the state championship on Saturday in Santa Fe.