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La Cueva tops Las Cruces

Los Lunas receiver Lorenzo Sosa catches a pass for a score against Sandia on Friday at Wilson Stadium. ROBERTO E. ROSALES/JOURNAL

LAS CRUCES – Quarterback Austin Smith threw four touchdown passes and ran for a fifth, as the visiting La Cueva High football team, ranked No. 4 in Class 5A, beat second-ranked Las Cruces 37-24 at the Field of Dreams on Friday night.

Also, Bears senior placekicker Dominic Camacho set New Mexico’s career record for field goals, hitting a short 18-yarder at the end of the first half.

That was his 29th field goal at La Cueva, giving him the record by himself.

“I was nervous, 100 percent,” Camacho said in a phone interview with the Journal. “It was at an angle, too. But I was trying to calm myself down. I was just happy I got the three points.”

Smith threw a pair of TD passes to Connor O’Toole, but it was the other two scoring throws in the fourth quarter that made the difference for La Cueva (2-1).

He threw a TD pass to Ryan Barber with about 8 minutes remaining to give the Bears a 30-24 lead, and then he connected with Brad Thomas with just over two minutes to go for an insurance score.

“It’s a great win for us, because Cruces is one of the best-coached teams in the state,” La Cueva coach Brandon Back said. “To go down there, to the Field of Dreams, it’s a difficult place to win. We knew what we were capable of, we just had to execute.”

The La Cueva defense kept Las Cruces (2-1) off the scoreboard in the final quarter.

La Cueva plays 3-0 Cibola a week from Saturday at Nusenda Community Stadium. Las Cruces is home next Saturday to Rio Rancho.

RIO RANCHO 48, CLOVIS 28: At Rio Rancho, sophomore running back Zach Vigil carried the ball 28 times for 167 yards, scoring four times on short runs, and the seventh-ranked Rams (1-2) pulled away to beat the sixth-ranked Wildcats (2-1).

It was Rio Rancho’s ninth consecutive win over Clovis this decade.

The Rams went a perfect 7 of 7 in the red zone, and senior quarterback Isaiah Chavez also was over 100 rushing yards – until he took a 15-yard loss while running out the clock to end the game.

Vigil started the scoring by capping a seven-play, 62-yard first-quarter drive on a 4-yard run. Bailey Siverts added the PAT, and the Rams led 7-0 when the first period ended.

The Rams scored the first two TDs of the second quarter on Vigil’s first 1-yard run and a 19-yard touchdown pass from Chavez to Nick Rotert. Siverts added the PAT and Chavez tossed to Tyrese Watson for a 2-point conversion, respectively, after those scores.

Clovis (2-1), which never ran a play in the red zone, scored four touchdowns of at least 60 yards in length. It got the first two of those in the second quarter, with QB Chance Harris throwing a pass to an all-alone Malik Phillips, which went for a 65-yarder, and then Harris galloped 80 yards through the Rams’ defense.

At halftime, the Rams held a 22-14 lead.

The teams traded the next four scores: Vigil went in from 5 yards out and Harris found Phillips open in the secondary again, this time for a 60-yard TD pass, and it was 28-22.

Chavez hooked up with Watson on a fade route, covering 7 yards, and the ‘Cats countered with an 88-yard TD pass from Harris to Jeston Webskowski – but those were the Wildcats’ final touchdowns of the game.

The Rams scored the only points in the fourth quarter, on a 20-yard Chavez to Rotert connection and another 1-yard run by Vigil.

The Rams’ defense – despite giving up those four long touchdowns – did its job for the most past, as Clovis managed only a minus-14 rushing yards in the second half to go with Harris’s 163 passing yards.

Rio Rancho coach David Howes, who’d seen his team blow a 28-point lead at home in his team’s opener against Centennial, was asked what he was happiest with.

“I think playing four quarters,” he said. “Watching us take care of the football (the Rams didn’t turn the ball over); I just thought that looked like good, sound football.

“We’ve got to eliminate the long play,” Howes added. “We’ve got some guys making some errors on the back end. … We’re in the right direction. I’m just really thrilled with the sound football that we saw tonight.”

LOS LUNAS 28, SANDIA 3: At Wilson Stadium, the Tigers (2-1) cruised to a road victory over the Matadors (1-2).

Los Lunas, on the road for the third straight week, wasted no time jumping out to a lead, going up 7-0 when quarterback Kade Benavidez connected with Lorenzo Sosa from 15 yards out.

Los Lunas doubled the lead with 10:14 to go in the second quarter when Benavidez hit Chris Lucero, who made a spectacular grab over his defender to haul in the 16-yard touchdown and put the Tigers up 14-0.

The lead grew to 21-0 when on a fourth down, defensive end Bryce Santana took the direct snap and rumbled up the middle for a touchdown run of about 62 yards.

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