Prep football: Cibola stays unbeaten with wild win over Los Lunas - Albuquerque Journal

Prep football: Cibola stays unbeaten with wild win over Los Lunas

Los Lunas slotback Ethan Baca tries to outrun Cibola pursuit trying to push him out of bounds during Saturday’s action. (Liam DeBonis/Journal)

Should this count as one comeback for the multiple personality Cibola Cougars, or two?

Unbeaten Cibola (5-0) on Saturday afternoon not only trailed Los Lunas (2-4) by 16 points at halftime, but the Cougars were still down by that same margin when the fourth quarter began.

Not only did Cibola erase that deficit, but the Cougars later had to author a last-minute scoring drive after falling behind a second time. A magnificently staged trick play — a 34-yard touchdown pass from one receiver, Branden Castillo, to another, Marcus Wilson — with 14.9 seconds remaining capped a bonkers second half as No. 7-ranked Cibola posted a rousing 36-30 victory at Nusenda Community Stadium.

Cibola went into halftime with zero points and 55 total yards.

Those Cougars were nowhere to be found after halftime.

There were three lead changes in the final 2:19 including the aforementioned double pass, in which quarterback Aden Chavez threw slightly behind the line of scrimmage to Castillo.

The Los Lunas defense bit and moved forward, believing Castillo would catch and run. Meanwhile, the Tigers, who have dropped four in a row, lost track of Wilson, who drifted downfield and was wide open.

“We’ve had that in the bag for a while now,” Cibola coach Chris Howe said.

Cibola scored 29 points in a memorable fourth quarter, and Saturday marked the Cougars’ third straight come-from-behind victory. They trailed by 21 against West Mesa and 8 on the road in Farmington in the previous two games.

“It’s funny we have three of those,” said Chavez, who threw for 311 yards in the second half and 356 yards total. “It’s fun. It’s football. That’s what you play for.”

Cibola, down 23-7, had pulled even with 7:20 to go as Chavez ran for one score and threw a 72-yard TD pass to Castillo, who did most of the work after the intermediate-range catch. The Cougars converted on both 2-point conversions. Cibola’s first lead was 29-23 with 2:19 to go, on a Chavez 18-yard TD throw to tight end Brayden Mummert. But the Cougars botched the PAT.

Going the other way, Los Lunas QB Paul Cieremans hit Ethan Baca on a deep 61-yard touchdown pass with 1:23 remaining, as the Tigers reclaimed the lead at 30-29.

The key play on the game-winning drive for Cibola was Chavez throwing 14 yards to Castillo, who toe-tapped on the far sideline as the Cougars converted a fourth-and-3 and reached the Los Lunas 34.

“That was insane,” Chavez said of the catch.

Two plays later, the stunning game-winner.

“It was sweet,” Castillo said. “We set up plays specifically for moments like this, and it worked to perfection, thankfully. If not, we go home with a loss.”

Los Lunas controlled that opening half with a solid ground game and also by taking advantage of two over-aggressive Cibola decisions that both backfired and led to 10 Tiger points. A muffed punt by the Cougars led to the TD that put Los Lunas ahead 23-7 late in the third quarter.


Los Lunas 6 10 7 7 — 30

Cibola 0 0 7 29 — 36

Scoring: LL, Cash Aragon 17 pass from Paul Cieremans (run failed); LL, Nicolas Sandoval 5 pass from Cieremans (Kaden Bell kick); LL, Bell 30 FG; C, Marcus Wilson 2 pass from Aden Chavez (Enock Mbumba kick); LL, Nicholas Torres 2 run (Bell kick); C, Chavez 2 run (Chavez pass to Wilson); C, Branden Castillo 72 pass from Chavez (Chavez pass to Brayden Mummert); C, Mummert 18 pass from Chavez (run failed); LL, Ethan Baca 61 pass from Cieremans (Bell kick); C, Wilson 34 pass from Castillo (Mbumba kick). Records: C 5-0; LL 2-4.

First downs: LL 13; C 23. Rushes-yards: LL 45-111; C 24-63. Passing: LL 7-18-0—171; C 23-41-2—390. Total offense: LL 282; C 453. Punts-avg.: LL 7-43.3; C 3-42.3. Fumbles-lost: LL 1-0; C 1-1. Penalties-yards: LL 9-101; C 2-7.


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