Senior Magdalena running back Kaleb Castanon slides over a tackler Oct. 7.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain photos

MAGDALENA — The Steers battled themselves, the rain, Mesilla Valley Christian School and some questionable officiating as the Magdalena pounded out a 44-14 victory against the Sonblazers on Oct. 7.

Magdalena (5-2, 1-0) took control early as the No. 4 Steers rebounded from a 46-34 loss to No. 1 Fort Sumner House (two weeks ago). That’s something coach Danny Daniels wanted to see from his team after trouncing Navajo Pine 54-0.

Playing in a steady rain, Magdalena wasn’t on track early. Still, the Steers began an ongoing series of drives into the end zone following senior D’Shaun Vinyard’s fumble recovery on Mesilla’s second possession.

Quarterback Joshua Baca went right to work connecting with Vinyard on a long ball to the Mesilla 20-yard line, and Baca found Vinyard again for the game’s first touchdown on a six-yard pass.

Krae Stephens kept the drive alive when a Steer receiver had the ball pop out, and Stephens jumped on it for a fumble recovery.

Daniel Martinez made it 8-0 with a run for two points.

Freshman Shane Montoya looks to chop the ball away from a Mesilla runner.

Mesilla rebounded with a big kickoff return into the Steers’ end of the field and then caught a lucky break when the defender slipped and missed a sure sack that turned into a touchdown when the Magdalena defense slowed on a play that looked like it was over.

Joseph Zamora, Joshua Baca and Jeffrey Stuteville crushed the running attempt for two points, and the play set the tone for the Steers’ defense. The Sonblazers would get on the scoreboard one more time on a one-handed circus catch, but the remainder of the night belonged to the Steers.

Senior running back Kaleb Castanon drove that point home on the Steers’ next possession as he appeared to be stopped on the far side of the field, but the 135-pounder (who hits like a Mack truck) broke free and came back across the gridiron to score on a spectacular that covered 50 plus yards.

“Oh, man. It was crazy. Honestly, it was unbelievable. There was just a big pile. Somehow, I just got out of it,” Castanon said. “Once I turned the corner, I knew I had the defender beat, and I had faith in myself that I could score.”

Kael Stephens had several big catches on the night, and his 15-yard reception from Baca set up a six-yard scoring pass between Baca and Vinyard.

The Steers would recover the ball on a squib kick but couldn’t get the first down.

A punt buried the Sonblazers inside the ten-yard line, and an ineligible receiver penalty limited Mesilla’s options.

Left with another short-field situation, the Steers capitalized as Stephens took a reverse handoff into the end zone from 25 yards out to put Magdalena in control at 32-6 following Daniel Martinez’s run for two points.

Mesilla might have been down, but the Sonblazers were far from done, and the circus catch was a little wake-up call not to let up.

“I think maybe we came out (of halftime) thinking we had it in the bag,” Daniels said. “And they weren’t ready to quit yet. We just needed to match the intensity. We always preach it (finishing strong), but sometimes you can come out a little bit off.”

The constant rain didn’t help matters much either, and it slowed the Steers’ offense as they struggled to maintain possession.

Rounding out the scoring was Vinyard’s touchdown catch from Baca, and the senior quarterback racked up the final tally himself on a five-yard run.

Magdalena travels to Lordsburg on Oct. 14 for a contest that is likely to be for the district championship.

“We have got to come out strong and hit them in the mouth,” Daniels said. “We’ve got to take their confidence away immediately. We know what they do. They’re going to pass a lot. We have got to man up and take that away.”