As its wounded offense gradually attempts to work its way back to something resembling full health, La Cueva leaned heavily on the other side of the ball on Friday night.
The Bears scored a trio of defensive touchdowns — including a back-breaking fumble return just before halftime — to pull away for a 38-16 triumph against Volcano Vista (1-2) at Nusenda Community stadium. Linebacker Mason Posa, safety Colt Mangino and defensive end Deven Dyer all hit paydirt for La Cueva (3-1).
“We knew they were gonna throw the ball. So we tried to get pressure to the quarterback … and let guys in the backfield try to run them around and make plays, and that’s exactly what happened,” La Cueva coach Brandon Back said. “It was just a big team event on the defensive side of the ball.”
Posa set the tone in the first quarter with his team up 3-0 when he picked off a Josh Gerardo pass and weaved through the Volcano Vista offense for a 65-yard interception return, one of two picks he had on the night. After the Hawks cut the deficit to 10-7, Mangino took another errant Gerardo throw 40 yards to the house for a 17-7 advantage.
Perhaps the most deflating moment of all for the Hawks came late in the second quarter. With the Bears holding a 24-14 lead in the waning seconds of the half, Dyer sacked Elliot Paskett-Bell — the other part of the Volcano Vista quarterback platoon — forcing a fumble and rumbling 26 yards into the end zone as time expired.
The La Cueva offense then showed off its big-play capabilities in the third quarter, when Aidan Armenta lofted a beautiful deep ball to wideout Ian Sanchez, who caught the pass in stride and outran a Volcano Vista defender the rest of the way for an 89-yard score and a 38-14 lead. Simply having Sanchez on the field was a welcome sight for the Bears, as he had missed the first three games due to a broken collarbone.
— Tristen Critchfield
LA CUEVA 38, VOLCANO VISTA 16
La Cueva 10 21 7 0 — 38
Volcano Vista 7 7 2 0 — 16
Scoring: LC, Dylan Chavez 27 FG; LC, Mason Posa 65 interception return (Chavez kick); VV, Tyler Martinez 1 run (Diego Garcia kick); LC, Colt Mangino 40 interception return (Chavez kick); VV, Martinez 1 run (Garcia kick); LC, Aidan Armenta 1 run (Chavez kick); LC, Deven Dyer 26 fumble return (Chavez kick); LC, Ian Sanchez 89 pass from Armenta (Chavez kick); VV, safety, Armenta sacked in end zone. Records: LC 3-1; VV 1-2.
First downs: LC 13; VV 18. Rushes-yards: LC 24-85; VV 25-58. Passing: LC: 14-25-1—286; VV 20-36-4—208. Total offense: LC 391; VV 266. Punts-avg.: LC 1-31; VV 5-36.6. Fumbles-lost: LC 1-1; VV 6-2. Penalties-yards: LC 6-75; VV 6-80.
CLEVELAND 42, LAS CRUCES 7: At Cleveland, Josh Perry helped ensure Cleveland (4-0) would not only start fast, but also finish off Las Cruces (1-3) fast.
Fifty seconds into regulation, the Cleveland running back bolted down the right side for a 30-yard touchdown run.
Perry, a junior, tacked on two more touchdown runs in the first quarter, plus the exclamation point with 44 seconds left in the third quarter — resuming the 35-point running clock for a second time.
Storm cornerback Jaiden Nuñez added a pick-six for Cleveland, which led 35-0 at that point.
Shortly before Nuñez’s return, CHS quarterback Evan Wysong, a junior, scored on a 14-yard keeper, darting into the right corner.
Las Cruces quarterback Dallas Boyd, a senior, scored the Bulldawgs’ only touchdown on a 7-yard quarterback keeper.
— Matt Hollinshead