This was not La Cueva at its best, or even near its best. But this was nonetheless a prosperous night for the Bears.
Despite five turnovers and a rough outing from quarterback Dylan Summer, No. 2-ranked La Cueva collected an important prep football win Friday night, rallying past District 2-6A rival Eldorado 35-21 at Wilson Stadium.
“We had no business winning that,” Bears coach Brandon Back said. “But the defense just stepped it up.”
La Cueva (8-1 overall, 2-1 in 2-6A) spotted the Eagles a 14-3 lead, largely because Eldorado’s defense was playing some of its best football of the season, and also because Summer was struggling.
But in the second half, it was the Bears’ defense that surged, holding the Eagles to four rushing yards and 42 total yards after halftime, which arrived with Eldorado leading 14-10.
“Defense has been our claim to fame all year long,” Back said. “We knew they’d have to do a better job (in the second half).”
The third quarter was particularly telling, as La Cueva outscored Eldorado 19-0. D’Andre Williams had two rushing scores, and Fred Mady III returned an interception 30 yards for the other touchdown.
“Coach (Back) was talking to us, saying, ‘We need to establish a running game.’ And that’s what we did,” said Williams, who scored on runs of 24 and 3 yards.
La Cueva’s defense wasn’t all that turned things in the second half. The Bears also committed to their ground game, which was by no means electric, but after going for only 40 yards in the first two quarters, La Cueva — led by Williams — it accumulated 127 yards in the second half.
Williams’ 24-yarder was set up after Eldorado had a 7-yard punt, leaving La Cueva with a super short field at the Eagles’ 29. Mady’s pick-six occured less than two minutes later, and Williams tacked on a 1-yarder late in the third quarter for a 29-14 lead headed to the final 12 minutes.
Two of the best quarterbacks in 6A were matched up in this game; oddly enough, both had terrible nights.
Summer finished 12 of 39 with 192 yards and three picks. Smith was 11 of 27 for 130 yards and three interceptions of his own.
Eldorado scored two TDs in a span of 64 seconds early in the second quarter to take a 14-3 lead. Quarterback Gabe Smith threw a 13-yard scoring pass to Javien Chavez, and Richard Gallegos added a 3-yard TD run just one play after a Chavez pick.
LA CUEVA 35, ELDORADO 21
Eldorado 0 14 0 7 — 21
La Cueva 3 7 19 6 — 35
Scoring: LC, Dominic Camacho 23 FG; E, Javien Chavez 13 pass from Gabe Smith (Brady Dickman kick); E, Richard Gallegos 3 run (Dickman kick); LC, Noah Woisin 1 run (Camacho kick); LC, D’Andre Williams 24 run (kick failed); LC, Fred Mady III 30 interception return (kick failed); LC, Williams 3 run (Camacho kick); LC, Woisin 6 run (kick failed); E, Graham McKenney 13 pass from Smith (Dickman kick). Records: LC 8-1, 2-1 in 2-6A; E 6-4, 2-2.
First downs: E 12; LC 19. Rushes-yards: E 33-63; LC 45-167. Passing: E 11-28-3—130; LC 12-39-3—192. Total offense: E 193; LC 359. Punts-avg.: E 6-29.7; LC 2-32.5. Fumbles-lost: E 2-1; LC 4-2. Penalties-yards: E 3-29; LC 5-52.