EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – It’s not often that games live up to their billings, but Canutillo’s trip to play Pebble Hills on opening night did that and then some.

Spartans’ kicker Aaron Ortega drilled a 27-yard field goal late in the contest to give Pebble Hills a 24-21 win over a tough Eagles team to open the 2023 campaign. Spartans quarterback Gael Ochoa – a UTEP commit – linked up with Marcus Torres to set up the winning kick with just seconds to go.

“To be able to win a game like that early in the year, that’s important,” said Spartans head coach Mark Torres. “It was a big play (Ochoa to Torres), but even bigger was the three defensive plays that gave us a chance to do that.”

Pebble Hills jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and led 21-7 in the second half, before 14 unanswered points by Canutillo resulted in a tie game late in the fourth after a Jeremiah Knox rushing touchdown.

Canutillo had the ball with a chance to win with under a minute to play, but was forced to punt it back to Pebble Hills, resulting in the game-winning drive by the Spartans.

Pebble Hills’ win was one of five games featuring Borderland teams being played on Thursday night.

Up in Las Cruces, Americas opened the Noe Robles era with a 44-19 win over Las Cruces High. Trailing 16-9 in the second quarter, the Trail Blazers outscored the Bulldawgs 38-3 the rest of the way to secure the impressive win.

At El Paso High, Gadsden beat the Tigers, 21-14. Dino Facio’s Panthers are now 2-0 for the first time since the 1990s.

Dwan Smith’s Horizon Scorpions went on the road to Jefferson and beat the Silver Foxes, 15-0 on Thursday. It was the Scorpions’ first win since 2021 after going 0-10 in 2022.

Finally, out in the Permian Basin, Clint lost to Wichita Falls Hirschi 34-0 in Andrews.

There’s still plenty of games to be played on Friday night around the Borderland. KTSM will have coverage of all of them at 10:15 p.m. on Friday on the season premiere of 9 Overtime, with Colin Deaver, Sam Guzman, Ed Stansbury, Jason Flores and Andy Morgan.