RIO RANCHO, N.M. - Las Cruces High School stunned favorite Rio Rancho by jumping out to an early 14 to 6 lead in the 6A state championship on Rio Rancho's home turf, but the Rams fought back, closing the game on a 33-3 run to claim a 39-17 victory and their second state title in the past three seasons.
Payton Ball opened the scoring for the Bulldawgs with a quarterback keeper to put his team up 7-0 in the first quarter.
Rio Rancho then responded with a short TD run of their own to cut the gap to 7-6.
But the Dawgs put together another sustained drive in the second quarter, capped off by a Ball touchdown pass to Ivan Molina to take a 14-6 lead.
Rio Rancho would then shut down the Las Cruces attack, allowing only a field goal for the remaining two and a half quarters of action.
The Rams would take a 21 to 17 lead into the break after two touchdown runs by Ashton Klovenas gave them the lead for good in the later stages of the second quarter.
Rio Rancho then added three more scores in the second half to seal the deal against the Dawgs.
Las Cruces finished the season with an 11-2 mark. Their only two losses came against Cleveland, the second-ranked team in the state, during the regular season, and Rio Rancho, the top-rated team in New Mexico, in the final. The Dawgs were looking to win their third state crown in the past five seasons.
Rio Rancho, meanwhile, capped off a perfect 13-0 season.