Don’t tell La Cueva head football coach, Brandon Back, that his team has a repeat 6A football championship on its mind.
“We’re not defending anything. This is a new team with a new personality and a new frame of reference,” Back said. “We haven’t talked about anything that happened last year. Last year was a great story, but that’s all it is right now.”
Nonetheless, the Bears’ football story is still being written after dispatching Eldorado, 41-27, at Wilson Stadium on Friday night.
The Bears’ Austin Smith threw for 334 yards and four touchdowns, and receiver Brad Thomas hauled in three of Smith’s TD tosses and had 238 yards receiving on eight catches in the first-round playoff game.
Junior running back Tyler Jenson added 151 yards rushing, and his 8-yard TD run with 4:15 to play in the fourth gave his club a 41-20 lead.
“Tyler Jenson has been a real breath of fresh air to our offense,” Back said. “He can take it out to the edge and run it. … He’s been a big weapon for us.”
No. 7 seed La Cueva (8-3) took command of the contest early as the action played out similar to the two clubs’ first meeting this season.
The five turnovers that plagued No. 10 Eldorado in a 38-13 loss to the Bears in October showed up again in back-to-back possessions midway through the first quarter.
In a seven-play sequence, the Eagles lost a pair of fumbles, and La Cueva capitalized with two quick-hitting touchdown passes.
On the first play after the Bears’ Noah Woasin’s recovered an Eldorado fumble, Smith hit Thomas on a short slant pass in the middle of the field, and Thomas raced 45 yards untouched for the opening touchdown.
Three plays into Eldorado’s next possession, Ja’Shon Lowery recovered another Eagles fumble giving La Cueva great field position at the Eldorado 31.
Two plays removed from that turnover, Smith lofted a 24-yard TD pass to a wide-open Thomas pushing the lead to 14 with 3:18 left in the opening stanza.
Despite those miscues, Eldorado wasn’t ready to go away.
On the first play from scrimmage after La Cueva’s second TD of the first quarter, Eldorado quarterback Zack Hofman threw a deep pass over the middle to Broderick Dickman. Dickman made a leaping catch over the La Cueva defender and ran away from the defense for an 80-yard score.
Eldorado (6-5) forced La Cueva to punt for the first time on the next sequence and systematically drove 80 yards on 10 plays – all runs – for the tying touchdown.
Ben West’s 34-yard dash tied the game at 14-14. La Cueva answered that score late in the first half when Smith connected on a 2-yard TD pass to Tristan Altier.
Eldorado finished with three lost fumbles and a muffed punt, and three of those turnovers directly led to La Cueva scores.
“You can’t turn the ball over four times, and you can’t win games when you turn it over that many times,” said Eldorado coach Charlie Dotson.
No. 7 LA CUEVA 41, No. 10 ELDORADO 27
Eldorado 7 7 7 6—27
La Cueva 14 7 13 7—41
First Downs: LC 20; E 18. Rushes-yards: LC 32-172; E 44-258. Passing: LC 18-33-2, 334; E 5-11-0, 165. Total yards: LC 506; E 423; Punts-avg. LC 2-38.5; E 4-27.0. Fumbles-lost: LC 0-0; E 3-3. Penalties-yds. LC 5-60; E 6-41. Rec.: LC 8-3; E 6-5. Scoring: LC, Brad Thomas 45 pass from Austin Smith (Dominic Camacho kick); LC, Thomas 24 pass from Smith (Camacho kick); E, Broderick Dickman 80 pass from Zack Hofman (Dickman kick); E, Ben West 34 run (Dickman kick); LC, Tristan Altier 2 pass from Smith (Camacho kick); LC, Smith 1 run (Camacho kick); E, West 6 run (Dickman kick); LC, Thomas 73 pass from Smith (pass failed); LC, Tyler Jenson 8 run (Camacho kick); E, Elijah Smith 30 pass from Hofman (pass failed).