Through the years, Eldorado High School football coach Charlie Dotson has rightfully earned his reputation as a guy who likes to roll the dice.
On Friday, it was his counterpart who did the major gambling.
And the winning.
La Cueva coach Brandon Back made three separate decisions to go for a touchdown on a fourth-and-goal. The Bears converted each of those tries into scores and held off Eldorado 31-28 at Wilson Stadium.
“I love taking risks and gambles,” Back said.
The Bears (6-3, 3-1 in District 2-6A) trailed 21-14 to start the fourth quarter, but they rattled off 17 unanswered points against the Eagles (4-5, 1-3).
Running back Josh Woisin rushed 22 times for 159 yards and a pair of touchdowns for La Cueva. But he, and the Bears, did their heavy damage in those final 12 minutes.
Woisin gained 90 of his yards in the fourth quarter, and La Cueva rushed for 159 of its 247 yards in the fourth quarter.
“We got Josh going, that was the biggest thing,” Back said.
Early in the fourth quarter, Chandler Johnson kicked a short field goal for the Bears to cut the deficit to 21-17. After a quick Eldorado three-and-out, La Cueva went back to work, with Woisin scoring on a 25-yard run and a 24-21 lead with 8:15 remaining. That was the only one of La Cueva’s four TDs that did not occur on a fourth down.
After the next Eagles drive stalled, La Cueva added insurance. On a fourth down from the 2, quarterback Chris Campbell kept and scored. It was 31-21 with 2:02 to go.
Eldorado did score a late TD with 27.6 seconds left, but La Cueva recovered the ensuing onside kick.
“There’s no better feeling than beating your biggest district rival,” Woisin said.
Special teams hurt Eldorado badly. Going back to the first quarter, La Cueva was ready to try a field goal from the Eagles’ 7, but then Eldorado jumped offside. Back sent the offense back onto the field, and Campbell threw a 3-yard TD pass to Reece Wilkinson.
That offside penalty cost Eldorado four points. The Eagles also missed a 35-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Woisin had a 1-yard TD on a fourth down in the second quarter. Asked whether the fourth-down calls were a product of the players asking the coaches, egging Back to take a risk, or the coaches merely showing trust in the offense, Woisin said: “It’s a combination of both. We have a tremendous amount of faith in each other, and they trust us.”
LA CUEVA 31, ELDORADO 28
La Cueva 7 7 0 17 — 31
Eldorado 7 7 7 7 — 28
First downs: LC 17; E 22. Rushes-yards: LC 34-247; E 47-142. Passing: LC 17-28-0—183; E 23-37-0—287. Total offense: LC 430; E 429. Punts-avg.: LC 5-36.4; E 3-41.3. Fumbles-lost: LC 1-1; E 3-0. Penalties-yards: LC 8-71; E 8-89.
Scoring: E, Matt Denis 1 run (Andrew Shelley kick); LC, Reece Wilkinson 3 pass from Chris Campbell (Chandler Johnson kick); LC, Josh Woisin 1 run (Johnson kick); E, Trenton Gaither 85 pass from Denis (Shelley kick); E, Denis 1 run (Shelley kick); LC, Johnson 25 FG; LC, Woisin 25 run (Johnson kick); LC, Campbell 2 run (Johnson kick); E, Dominic Sandoval 11 pass from Denis (Shelley kick). Rec.: LC 6-3, 3-1 in 2-6A; E 4-5, 1-3.