By Brad Fuqua
WGCN sports editor
The big play. It pumps up the players, excites fans and demoralizes the opponent.
That’s exactly what Williams did Friday night in the home opener at Viking Stadium. The Vikings scored three touchdowns from 50-plus yards in a 44-14 rout of Laughlin, Nev.
Juaquin Ortiz scored on runs of 92 and 55 yards and Tell Eckel broke loose on an 85-yard run to keep Laughlin on its heels.
“We had a lot big plays, especially after how that first series went,” WHS coach Rick Shipley said.
On the first play of the game, Williams lost 14 yards on an errant pitch play. After a 15-yard tripping penalty and an incomplete pass, the Vikings found themselves in a third-and-39.
Juan Alvarado gained eight yards on a pass before the team had to punt the ball away. The first series amounted to a minus-21 yards.
But Laughlin couldn’t move the ball either. The Cougars lost 14 yards on their first series, thanks to a pair of sacks. Dan Rotter had a sack on Laughlin’s second play from scrimmage. On the next play, Alvarado and Tyler Aldridge nailed thee quarterback in the backfield.
“I’d like to think we improved a whole lot,” Shipley said about his defense, which yielded 98 points in the first two games. “But I realize there’s a difference between Laughlin and Blue Ridge and Tuba City. We’ve got some kids playing defense in their first year of football.”
When Williams got the ball back for its second series, the tone of the evening was set. Quarterback Eckel moved the chains with a 15-yard run and a couple of plays later, Alvarado got a first down after a 20-yard run.
On second-and-goal from the 2, Chris Loxterman caught a two-yard pass from Eckel for the apparent TD. But it was called back because of an ineligible player downfield.
Backed up to the 7, Alvarado ran up the middle untouched to give Williams its first touchdown of the season. Eckel ran in the two-point conversion for an 8-0 lead.
Laughlin got the ball back and went three and out before punting the ball back to Williams. The Vikes had poor field position on their third series after being nailed for a clipping penalty on the punt return.
Williams then drew flags again for too few on the line of scrimmage. That backed the Vikes up to the 8-yard line. But it didn’t matter. Ortiz took the handoff on a misdirection play and zigzagged his way to a 92-yard touchdown. The after-TD conversion failed and the Vikes led 14-0 with 4:11 left in the first quarter.
Laughlin had the ball for two plays on the ensuing series before fumbling away. Rotter fell on a Cougar fumble after a mean hit from Aldridge to give the Vikings the ball back.
Four players later, Loxterman caught a two-yard TD pass from Eckel and this time, it counted. Williams led 20-0 with 1:38 left in the first quarter.
Laughlin ended the first quarter with minus-12 yards and no first downs.
Early in the second quarter, Williams was driving again against the hapless Cougar defense when Shipley put it his second unit. Jon Garcia came in at quarterback and nearly completed what would have been TD passes to open receivers.
The team ended up punting the ball away.
See Football, Page 7A