Cleveland tops La Cueva in outrageously high-scoring 6A football final (with photo gallery) - Albuquerque Journal

Cleveland tops La Cueva in outrageously high-scoring 6A football final (with photo gallery)

Historians may debate the question of whether or not this qualified as a genuine threepeat, but on this point there should be conformity:

Cleveland High School has just completed four magnificent years of football.

The Storm, led by a future UNM Lobo at quarterback and a backup running back who had the game of his life, was on the right side of a history-making Saturday afternoon as Class 6A’s No. 1 seed outscored No. 2 La Cueva 75-61 in the state final at jampacked Wilson Stadium.

“I wasn’t expecting to score 75 points,” Storm first-year head coach Robert Garza said, “but it takes what it takes.”

Only one team since 1953 — Jal, with 76 in 1959 — had scored more points in any 11-Man title game than Cleveland did on Saturday. The 136 combined points was, by a wide margin, the highest-scoring 11-Man final New Mexico’s ever seen. Only a small handful of 8-Man or 6-Man finals had even surpassed that total.

In the largest class, the previous record for points in a championship game was 69, by Mayfield, against Manzano, in 2010.

Cleveland (11-2) ended a 10-game winning streak by La Cueva (11-2), and in the process won the 6A state title for the third consecutive full season (2019, 2021). There was no 2020 fall season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, there were a small handful of games played in the spring of 2021.

“It’s amazing to go out with another win,” said Cleveland senior quarterback Evan Wysong, who was magnificent as he rushed for 246 yards and scored on touchdown runs of 59, 2 and 72 yards.

Wysong was a predictable offensive asset in this win.

Junior Harris Mbueha was not.

Mbueha was the game’s unexpected star, scoring four touchdowns and running for 108 yards on 16 carries with starter Josh Perry dealing with a bit of a knee issue.

“I just came in, did my part,” said Mbueha (the ‘M’ is silent). “Josh had a little injury, so I had big shoes to fill, and I just tried to do my best.”

Said Wysong with a smile: “Harris is a wonderful kid. He’s extremely funny, and half the time he doesn’t really know what he’s doing, but I make sure he’s in check. I love the kid to death.”

The teams combined for 1,209 yards. Cleveland rushed for 474 yards, and to demonstrate how dominant its ground game was, the Storm scored 47 points in the second half — 14 were the result of two pick-6s — without completing a single pass.

The teams traded scores throughout a frantic opening quarter-and-a-half. Cleveland was leading 28-20 late in the half when Andres Armijo dropped a sure touchdown pass in the end zone for the Storm. Then everything went haywire for Cleveland. For a while.

La Cueva scored two touchdowns in the final 56 seconds of the second quarter to lead 34-28 at halftime, and the Bears scored on their opening drive of the third quarter for a 41-28 lead.

And then things went south for La Cueva, spectacularly so.

Cleveland scored the final 20 points of the third quarter, and led 48-41. A long TD run by Wysong and the first of two pick-6s by Andres Aguirre, with a 35-yard return — put the game out of reach at 62-41 with 6½ minutes left.

In his final game, La Cueva senior QB Aidan Armenta threw for 517 yards and five touchdowns, plus the two crucial picks. Three of the TD passes went to Jackson Hix (6, 15 and 37 yards) who had his best game of the season.

Cleveland’s defense forced four second-half turnovers, and turned them into 28 points. There were Aguirre’s pick-6s, and also two fumbles — one deep in La Cueva’s own end, the other with the Bears driving for points — that became touchdowns the other way for the opportunistic Storm.

“That was the biggest difference maker,” La Cueva coach Brandon Back said.

“We told them at halftime, we have to create turnovers, and we did just that,” Garza said.

CLEVELAND 75, LA CUEVA 61

Cleveland 21 7 20 27 — 75

La Cueva 14 20 7 21 — 61

Scoring: First quarter—C, Harris Mbueha 35 pass from Evan Wysong (Jeff Bem kick); LC, Jackson Hix 6 pass from Aidan Armenta (Mason Crowell kick); C, Wysong 59 run (Bem kick); LC, Cam Dyer 98 kickoff return (Crowell kick); C, Mbueha 21 run (Bem kick). Second quarter—LC, Hix 15 pass from Armenta (kick failed); C, Josh Perry 12 run (Bem kick); LC, Cruz Markham 51 pass from Armenta (Crowell kick); LC, Armenta 1 run (Crowell kick). Third quarter—LC, Hix 37 pass from Armenta (Crowell kick); C, Perry 21 run (Bem kick); C, Wysong 2 run (kick blocked); C, Mbueha 8 run (Bem kick). Fourth quarter—C, Wysong 72 run (Bem kick); C, Andres Aguirre 35 interception return (Bem kick); LC, Myuh Robertson 2 run (Crowell kick); C, Mbueha 7 run (kick failed); C, Aguirre 60 interception return (Bem kick); LC, Gabriel Buie 58 run (Crowell kick); LC, Dyer 5 pass from Armenta (Crowell kick). Records: C 11-2; LC 11-2.

First downs: C 21; LC 26. Rushes-yards: C 57-474; LC 26-142. Passing: C 7-15-0—71; LC 34-66-2—522. Total offense: C 545; LC 664. Punts-avg.: C 2-47.0; LC 2-34.5. Fumbles-lost: C 2-0; LC 2-2. Penalties: C 6-61; LC 12-124.

 

 

Home » From the newspaper » Cleveland tops La Cueva in outrageously high-scoring 6A football final (with photo gallery)

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