No. 3 La Junta football grinds to a win over No. 9 Alamosa

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

LA JUNTA — Jon Nuschy likes to take matters into his own hands. So when La Junta didn't score on its first drive of the game, he took the ball back to give his Tigers another chance.

He put the team on the board with a 15-yard touchdown run and La Junta held firm on its home field, coming away with a 21-13 win over Alamosa on Friday night.

And just like the bulk of last year, when the Class 2A No. 3-ranked Tigers (2-0 overall) needed offense, it was Nuschy who provided the spark, even if he doesn't see it that way.

"It's more of a team effort," he said. "We play good when we have to and we made it happen."

The junior quarterback found Riley Remick for a 26-yard pass that eventually set up Nuschy's first touchdown of the night, a 15-yard scamper around the edge.

The No. 9-ranked Mean Moose (1-1), however, were not without the capabilities of putting together a scoring drive. Quarterback John Lujan found Angelo Ramirez for a 36-yard pass, setting up an eventual two-yard touchdown run for Ramirez to tie the game.

But the Tigers had an answer.

Nuschy connected with a Matthew Espinoza on a 30-yard touchdown pass to regain the lead.

"It's hard, their corners were good and their safeties were good," Espinoza said. "It was hard to get open, but when I did, I was able to make plays."

La Junta took the seven-point cushion into halftime, but sputtered on their first drive of the third quarter. On their first drive of the half, the Moose carved out 52 yards through the air, and grounded out the other 11 to get back the end zone.

But the they couldn't tie the game as the extra point sailed wide-right. Between Nuschy's interception that was initially bobbled by an Alamosa receiver, Espinoza's catch that he was able to haul in and the missed extra point, the bounces just weren't going the ways of the Moose.

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

"That's a tough game and La Junta is a tough opponent," Alamosa coach Dillon McNamee said. "We're disappointed because we know we played really well, just a handful of little plays down the stretch, if they go the other way it could've been a different outcome."

Perhaps the biggest play of the night came with 2:55 left in regulation. A penalty left the Tigers with fourth and long and out came the punting unit.

But coach Clint Buderus and Nuschy are of a like mind. They don't like handing the ball back to their opponent. Nuschy completed a 20-yard pass off a fake punt and Wyatt Buhr ended the drive with a two-yard touchdown run to give the Tigers an eight-point lead.

"(The fake punt call was) mine," Buderus said. "We give up our up-back guy that send in either a thumbs up or thumbs down and we got the look we wanted, so we did it."

And it paid off. The defending 2A champions remain undefeated and now hold the state's longest active winning streak at 15 games.

The Moose, a team that has been bitten by La Junta several times in recent years, didn't come away with a win, but came away knowing they have the chops to hang with the best the state has to offer.

"(The loss) is only going to make us stronger as a team and as a family," Ramirez said. "We'll come together and every team we play, we'll remember this night and how bad it hurts."

The Tigers will look to continue their winning streak when they travel to Elizabeth next week and then will meet Kent Denver in a rematch of last year's state title game.