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Rams edge out Indians 46-45

By Stephen Ewing
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Despite the fact that the Groveton High School’s football program has been less than stellar in recent years, Indian Stadium remains an intimidating facility, with its multiple state championship banners lining the fences. The Joaquin Rams didn’t expect an easy win when they traveled here Friday night, and they were right, as the resurgent Indians pushed them to the limit. With a large Groveton Homecoming crowd on hand, the Rams were fortunate to leave town with a 46-45 victory, which saw three Joaquin runners cross the 100 yard mark. 
The game didn’t start off looking like a high scoring affair, as the two teams exchanged possessions twice before the Indians got on the board with a 17 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Glenn Thornton to Saul Chavez at the 1:59 mark in the first quarter. That capped off a ten play, 60 yard drive. Nick Martinez booted the PAT, which gave the Indians a 7-0 lead. The Rams got their offense moving on their next possession, as Nate Belrose burst through gaping hole in the defense for a 47 yard gain. Four plays letter, Hunter Harper pounded his way into the endzone on a twelve yard run. A holding penalty negated the two-point conversion, leaving the Indians on top 7-6. Facing a 4th and 13 from midfield, the Indians tried a fake punt, with Thornton passing to Chavez out of punt formation. Belrose made the tackle one yard shy of the first down marker, giving the Rams the ball back. This time, it was Nathaniel Retamar’s turn to make a big play, as he raced 48 yards to set up a two-yard Belrose touchdown. Harper punched in the two-pointer, giving the Rams their first lead of the night, at 14-7. After another exchange of possessions, the Indians struck back with a 35 yard touchdown pass from Thornton to Dawson Chumley. Martinez’s PAT knotted the score at 14 apiece, with 2:47 left in the first half. A Ram fumble at the Indian 31 yard line killed a promising drive, but two plays later, Cole Powdrill picked off Thornton’s pass to Chumley at the Joaquin 28, sending the teams to the locker room with the score still tied.
The Rockin’ Ram Band took to the field for its halftime performance, and brought both sides of the stadium to their feet with its patriotic precision marching drill. The finale of the drill saw a 20’x30’ American Flag unfurled at midfield, causing the Groveton Homecoming crowd to respond with a standing ovation. After the GHS Homecoming Court presentation, the Indian Band presented its corp band drill as both teams returned to the gridiron. 
After receiving the second half kickoff, the Rams moved to midfield before another fumble gave the football back to the Indians. Nick Martinez cashed in the gift, finishing off a six play, 51 yard drive with a four yard touchdown run. He then added the PAT to give the Indians a 21-7 lead. The Rams came right back with a three yard, 61 yard drive, with junior Peyton Martinez getting his first career touchdown on a 55 yard run. Harper plowed in for the conversion, giving the Rams a 22-21 lead. The Indians only needed one play to answer, as Thornton’s short pass was deflected off the hands of Chavez, then snatched out of thin air by Chumley, who scampered 53 yards for a touchdown. Thornton tossed a conversion pass to Martinez to give the Indians a 29-22 lead with 7:32 left in the third quarter. The Rams needed four snaps to answer this time, as Belrose raced 46 yards for a score. Harper tacked on another two-pointer, giving the Rams a 30-29 lead. Three plays later, the Indians were on top again, courtesy of the third Thornton-to-Chumley scoring pass of the night, this one from 36 yards. The pair hooked up again on the conversion, putting the Indians back on top 37-30.
37-30. Harper picked up a 34 yard gain on the Rams’ first snap, which set them up at the Groveton 34. Three plays later, Ram quarterback Tray Wilkerson found Belrose on a crossing route, who then broke two tackles on a 37 yard scoring pass. Kase Yates punched in for two more to give Joaquin a 38-37 lead. The Ram defense finally caught its breath, stopping the Indians on 4th and six at the Joaquin 30 yard line. The Rams took over possession with fifty seconds left on the third quarter clock. That’s where they began an epic 70 yard,15-play drive that six and half minutes off the clock. With center Lane Bates, guards Zach Bell and Regan Hovey, tackles Kardrae Brown and Rustin Miller, tight end Cole Powdrill, and swingmen Brock Lawson and Keith Johnson leading the way, Wilkerson mixed runs by Belrose, Harper and Retamar to move the ball down the field. Harper bulldozed in from the two to finish off the effort, marking his sixth carry of the drive. Belrose blasted in for the deuce, putting the Rams ahead 46-37. The Indians answered with a ten play drive that took 3:31 off the clock. Thornton’s two yard pass to Chavez. The conversion was good, but the Rams still held a 46-45 lead.

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