With 4 minutes left in the season’s most important game, the La Cueva Bears opted for some comfort food.
The marvelous throw that Bears quarterback Dylan Summer authored to break a 19-19 tie against Eldorado is one he is perhaps more comfortable and familiar with than any other in the La Cueva arsenal.
And this toss, even on a night when Summer labored to complete passes, proved to be the difference for La Cueva.
Summer chucked a 73-yard touchdown pass to Prince Robertson with 3:55 remaining, and the second-ranked Bears scored 21 points in the final four minutes to pull away from No. 3 Eldorado in a 40-19 District 2/5-6A victory Thursday night at Wilson Stadium.
On a third-and-long for the Bears from their 27, La Cueva coach Brandon Back decided it was time to delegate some authority.
“We asked what he (Summer) wanted to throw, and that’s the one he wanted,” Back said after the Bears improved to 8-0 overall and 2-0 in district. “We put it on his shoulders to make a big play at the end, and we got it.”
The play had Robertson, on the far side, run a fly route. Summer, who completed only 11 of 29 passes in this game, made his best throw of the night, lobbing a pass that found Robertson’s hands at about the Eldorado 30.
The speedy Robertson took it the rest of the way as an Eagle defender fell down on the catch.
“I had been calling that play for a while (Thursday night),” said Summer. “And we knew it was a good play for their coverage.”
With the PAT, La Cueva, which at one point trailed the Eagles (5-2, 0-1) by 19-7, took a 26-19 lead.
“All night,” Summer said, “we were off. It finally clicked right there in that play.”
D’Andre Williams added an insurance touchdown exactly one minute later after La Cueva forced a punt.
With the clock running in the final 10 seconds and La Cueva not needing to even run another play, the Bears ran one anyway — and threw for another touchdown with 6 seconds showing.
“La Cueva and Eldorado have different philosophies,” Eldorado coach Charlie Dotson said of the final La Cueva TD, judiciously choosing his words.
La Cueva scored the game’s final 33 points.
Eldorado had the first 10, punching the Bears in the mouth with a potent ground game. Ben West had a 13-yard TD run to open the game, and a Broderick Dickman field goal made it 10-0 less than four minutes into the game. The Bears were error-prone in the first quarter, an issue compounded by the fact Eldorado ran it down La Cueva’s throat.
“We came out a little flat,” La Cueva senior defensive end Kendrick Milford admitted. “But we found the fight, and kept pushing.”
The Eagles led 19-14 at halftime, but both coaches knew the margin should have been much wider given Eldorado’s missed chances.
“We should have been down 30 (at half),” Back said.
Eldorado still held a 19-16 lead going to the fourth quarter; the only points in the third quarter came on a La Cueva safety as Eagles’ QB Nick Petty ran out of the back of the end zone after a bad snap.
Dominic Camacho of the Bears made it 19-all with a short field goal with 7:23 remaining.
“The difference was the inability of our offense in the second half to get anything going,” Dotson said. “Our defense played outstanding.”
Eldorado had 167 rushing yards in the first half, but only 24 in the second half. And La Cueva intercepted Petty four times — including a one-handed pick by Milford.
The teams combined for seven turnovers; La Cueva’s three were all fumbles. The Eagles were held scoreless for the final 36½ minutes.
The Bears are off next week. Eldorado visits Clovis. There is still no definitive word, Dotson said, on when his senior quarterback, Gabe Smith, will return to the lineup.
Smith, who broke his collarbone several weeks ago against Albuquerque High, has begun to throw, Dotson said. It is conceivable Smith might return before the regular season ends, but Dotson is wary of rushing him back onto the field.
“He’ll come back when the doctor says,” Dotson said.
In the meantime, Eldorado is still very much in the hunt for a top-four seed for the playoffs, which would give the Eagles a first-round bye.
“Our goal is to finish 8-2 and be the 4 seed and get another crack at those guys (in the playoffs),” Dotson said of La Cueva.
Also Thursday, Albuquerque High edged Highland 16-13.
LA CUEVA 40, ELDORADO 19
La Cueva 7 7 2 24 — 40
Eldorado 10 9 0 0 — 19
Scoring: E, Ben West 13 run (Broderick Dickman kick); E, Dickman 35 FG; LC, Connor O’Toole 37 pass from Dylan Summer (Dominic Camacho kick); E, Dickman 41 FG; E, Trey Duran 5 pass from Nick Petty (run failed); LC, D’Andre Williams 48 pass from Summer (Camacho kick); LC, Safety, Petty ran out of the back of the end zone; LC, Camacho 21 FG; LC, Prince Robertson 73 pass from Summer (Camacho kick); LC, Williams 45 run (Camacho kick); LC, Robertson 15 pass from Summer (Camacho kick). Records: LC 8-0, 2-0 in 2/5-6A; E 5-2, 0-1.
First downs: LC 13; E 19. Rushes-yards: LC 33-160; E 52-191. Passing: LC 11-29-0—255; E 13-32-4—106. Total offense: LC 415; E 297. Punts-avg.: LC 6-29.8; E 6-26.7. Fumbles-lost: LC 3-3; E 3-1. Penalties-yards: LC 9-89; E 7-54.