RAPTORS 32-0 Mayas
“Jesús ‘Palillo’ Martínez” Stadium, México City
By: Daniel Cortés Martínez
The Raptors exhibited an impressive dose of football while absolutely controlling every aspect of their first game of the season against the laureated two-time champions Mayas.
It was an uncharacteristically careless game for coach Alfaro’s squad, as they are recognized as one of the most clean and mistake-free teams in the league. However, this day the Mayas seemed disconnected from the field and the long-absence from football affected their performance. Proof of that situation are the six penalties on the first half alone and the ten total penalties in the game; in addition, they could not get anything going on offense, punting, turning the ball over by fumbles, high centers and stalling the offense on fourth down. It was a forgettable day for QB Marco García (No. 12) who threw for two interceptions, zero touchdowns, lost a fumble, and was constantly harassed by the imposing Raptors defense, taking an outrageous five sacks.
On the opposite side, it was a field day for Raptors’ QB Bruno Márquez (No. 12) who threw for four touchdown passes and guided his team to a well-earned victory showing new signs of improvement for a long-awaited offensive outburst. The Raptors could not finish their first attack that looked very good, reaching the red zone in five plays, but fumbling the ball as RB Alberto Ruiz (No. 34) tried to extend to the end-zone. Yet, the lizards’ took advantage of a high center (the first of three from the Mayas) and recovered the football, leading to an eight-play series that culminated with the first Touchdown of the game, courtesy of WR Iván García (No. 16) in a pump-fake toss to the left that iced the coverage and left García wide open for the score.
Missing their star RB Omar Cojolum (1 game suspension), the Mayas leaned on Edgar Arroyo (No. 33) and Jose Antonio Ruiz (No. 22) for the running game, but the constant pressure and penetration of the Raptors’ defense prevented them for making big plays, and in consequence, the Blue Empire could not find the balance on the offense, coped with errant throws by García who often threw outside the pocket. Another high center in a punt left the Raptors with great field position and on the very next play, Márquez threw a short pass to the left and found WR José Manuel Barrios (No. 19) who managed to shook off a pair of defenders and with a burst of pure speed got in the end-zone for a Touchdown. The things were not looking good for the reigning champions who were trailing by 16 points early in the first half.
The next offensive series for the Mayas looked promising as García (No. 12) began to connect with Josue Martínez (No. 81) and José Antonio Vázquez (No. 7) for big gains, but a back-breaking penalty and a couple of consecutive sacks forced the Mayas to turn the ball on downs. The few bright spots for the Mayas came by the defense when Jonathan García (No. 54) captured Marquez to keep the Raptors’ offense out of the red zone. Three plays later, Marco García threw a pass that was batted on the line to land on the hands of Raptors’ DB Gonzalo de la Rosa (No. 6) for an easy interception. The Mayas’ defense stepped up and sacked Márquez again to stop a rolling offensive series for the Raptors. Nevertheless, the offensive line could not hold on and Marco García took a couple of sacks of his own to end the half. Astounding effort by Raptors DL Diego Ruiz (No. 69) who was on the face of the QB all afternoon and took him down on three occasions, aided by Sergio Flores (No. 91) and Ramón López (No. 10)
On the second half the same story went on as the Raptors marched down the field via quick passes and screens with either Alberto Ruiz (No. 34), Iván García (No. 16) and the recipient of the third Touchdown José Manuel Barrios (No. 19) who was wide open on the left for an easy looking score. The Mayas went for a three-and-out series to open the half as García (No. 12) continued to be hunted down by the fierce Raptors defense. Next on, the defenses for both teams got big plays, first the Mayas sack-striping and recovering the ball, then on the Raptors stopping the offense on 4th down two times, and sacking García one more time. The next-scoring series for the Raptors saw them rolling over the Mayas on 4 plays, first a 57-yard screen pass with Barrios (No. 19) and then a 15-yard dart in the end zone for his third Touchdown of the evening, marking the last nail on the coffin for the Mayas who could not overcame any of their many mistakes.
The Raptors move on with a victory on their pocket and the future looking bright on the third season of the LFA as they prepare to face the winless Condors. They have room for improvement but for now they are on the right track to achieve higher goals than previous years. For their part, the Mayas have many work to do, specially on fixing the issues that plagued them on this inaugural showdown. However, they are more than capable on turning around this situation and continue to be the team to beat. They simply cannot be overlooked so easily.