Prep football: Cibola rides QB’s arm to win over Eldorado

Cibola was almost exclusively one-dimensional Friday night.

But one dimension was enough.

Junior quarterback Aden Chavez threw and threw and threw some more — 50 times in all — with 32 completions for 382 yards and four touchdowns as the Cougars pulled away for a 35-21 victory over Eldorado at Wilson Stadium.

“Best quarterback in the state,” Cibola receiver Nathan Lopez said of Chavez.

Lopez had four scores for Cibola: a 6-yard TD reception and a 38-yard wide receiver screen for a score, both in the first half, an 85-yard kickoff return to open the third quarter for the Cougars (2-1), and a game-clinching 19-yard touchdown reception with 6:02 remaining in the fourth quarter to essentially seal the victory.

“When I get the ball in his hands,” Chavez said, “he does amazing things.”

Cibola achieved a rare statistical feat: The Cougars won with minus-7 yards rushing.

The Cougars attempted 50 passes, but only 14 runs, and five of those were at the end of the game with Cibola running out the clock.

Unofficially, Lopez caught 14 Chavez passes for 157 yards.

“As a coach, it’s my job to find guys like that, find ways to get them the ball,” Cibola coach Rod Williams said. “We still have to find more ways.”

But Lopez was not the only weapon in the passing game.

Running back Branden Castillo added 10 catches for 181 yards and scored the go-ahead touchdown, taking a short pass from Chavez — who was being pursued by at least half of the Eldorado defense — and turning it into a 14-yard score on a third-and-10 play.

“The player who most epitomizes what we’re about is Branden Castillo,” Williams said.

That TD gave Cibola a 28-21 lead midway through the third quarter.

Third-down conversions were important for the Cougars throughout. They were 10 of 17 on third downs, many of them third-and-longs.

“We just kind of exponentially got better,” said Chavez. “It was just a good team win, we all played great.”

Chavez to Lopez from 6 yards out was the first TD. Elias Franco threw a TD pass early in the second quarter, but the PAT failed for a 7-6 Cibola lead. The screen TD pass to Lopez made it 14-6. Eldorado (2-2) tied the game in the final minute of the first half, with Franco throwing a 54-yard scoring pass to RB Shane Aspera. With the 2-point run, the game was 14-all.

Lopez took the second-half kickoff, faked a handoff to teammate Marcus Wilson, tucked it behind his hip, Eldorado bit on the fake, and Lopez had a super easy 85-yard touchdown to open the third quarter.

Cibola’s passing game had repeated success on the perimeter, which was the plan, Williams said.

CIBOLA 35, ELDORADO 21

Cibola 7 7 14 7 — 35

Eldorado 0 14 7 0 — 21

Scoring: C, Nathan Lopez 6 pass from Aden Chavez (Evan Ferguson kick); E, Damien Lucero 9 pass from Elias Franco (kick failed); C, Lopez 38 pass from Chavez (Ferguson kick); E, Shane Aspera 54 pass from Franco (Alesandro Morrison run); C, Lopez 85 kickoff return (Ferguson kick); E, Aspera 14 pass from Franco (Cortland Dickman kick); C, Branden Castillo 14 pass from Chavez (Ferguson kick); C, Lopez 19 pass from Chavez (Ferguson kick). Records: C 2-1; E 2-2.

First downs: C 15; E 17. Rushes-yards: C 14-(minus-8); E 35-203. Passing: C 32-50-0—382; E 9-25-2—116. Total offense: C 374; E 319. Punts-avg.: C 5-35.0; E 3-37.0. Fumbles-lost: C 0-0; E 2-1. Penalties-yards: C 10-97; E 9-100.

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