Clovis junior Tanner Fickling tries to turn the corner on La Cueva senior Frankie Baca during the third quarter of Friday’s game at Leon Williams Stadium. (Staff photo by Eric Kluth)
By Rick White: CNJ managing editor
Clovis forced La Cueva to do some things it hadn’t done so far this season — such as punt and play its regulars for four quarters.
The Wildcats also became the first team to finish a game against the Bears with positive rushing yards.
But it hardly mattered as elusive Frankie Baca and a bullish defense led La Cueva to a 40-0 win Friday at Leon Williams Stadium.
Baca zipped and zagged for 206 yards and four touchdowns, including a 50-yarder midway through the fourth quarter that helped turn the game into a rout.
Tyler Davis added a pair of touchdown passes as La Cueva (3-0) stretched its winning streak to 16 games with its third shutout of the season.
Clovis was the last team to beat La Cueva (10-0 in the 2002 state playoffs).
“We really didn’t talk about it,” La Cueva coach Fred Romero said about his team’s last loss. “I didn’t really realize it until I got here and people started asking me about it.
“But it was the last thing I told them right before the game and I think it fired them up a little bit.”
Clovis (1-3) kept the game close for three quarters, but La Cueva scored three times during the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter, capped off by a 34-yard touchdown pass from Davis to Seth Johnson.
“We played them tough early,” Clovis defensive coordinator Darren Kelley said. “But at the end I think they just wore us out.”
Romero defended his decision to throw on first down late in the game with his team up 33-0.
“Right there at the end of the game, they’re trying to hammer us on the run,” Romero said. “We have to back (teams) off sometimes, or they’re going to do it to us. I hope they don’t take it wrong; that we were rubbing it in.”
Kelley grudgingly gave La Cueva its due, but was irked by the late touchdown.
“They’re the best team in the state, but they’ve got to learn to win with class,” Kelley said.
John Props completed 6 of 11 passes for 60 yards for Clovis, which finished with 24 rushing yards on 25 carries against a La Cueva defense that gives up yards as grudgingly as a dog does bone. Led by senior defensive end Aaron Lewis, the Bears kept Clovis senior running back Phillip Williams in check and Props on the run.
Lewis, a University of Texas signee, recorded two of La Cueva’s three sacks and hurried Props several more times.
Saddled with poor field position most of the game, Clovis made it into La Cueva territory just once, on a 64-yard drive at the end of the first half.
Props had a 21-yard completion to Jones on third down to keep the drive alive, which ended at the La Cueva 16 when Props scrambled 18 yards on the final play of the half.
Baca, who got the Bears going early by racing 50 yards to the Clovis 15 on the second play from scrimmage, did most of his damage on sweeps.
He also caught a crucial 9-yard screen pass on third down that kept a second-quarter drive alive.
“He’s got great cutting ability,” Romero said. “He’s done a really good job for us so far.”
La Cueva 6 14 0 20 — 40
Clovis 0 0 0 0 — 0
LC — Greyson Wieczorek 14-yard pass from Tyler Davis (kick failed), 10:02. Drive: 65 yards in 4 plays. Key plays: Baca 50-yard run to Clovis 15. La Cueva 6, Clovis 0
LC — Frankie Baca 4-yard run (Ryan Hightower kick), 11:04. Drive: 86 yards in 10 plays. Key plays: Tyler Cormier 20-yard run to Clovis 29. Clint McPeek 13-yard run to Clovis 4. La Cueva 13, Clovis 0.
LC — Baca 1-yard run (Hightower kick), 3:40. Drive: 29 yards in 8 plays. Key plays: La Cueva recovers Clovis punt at Clovis punt at Wildcats 29. Baca 9-yard pass from Davis to Clovis 16 on 4th and 6. Joe Gherardi 12-yard reception to Clovis 1. La Cueva 20, Clovis 0.
LC — Baca 5-yard run (pass failed), 11:53. Drive: 55 yards in 6 plays. Key plays: Baca 32-yard run to Clovis 5. La Cueva 26, Clovis 0.
LC — Baca 50-yard run (Hightower kick), 7:56. Drive: 71 yards in 4 plays. Key plays: Baca 9-yard run to La Cueva 45. La Cueva 33, Clovis 0.
LC — Seth Johnson 34-yard pass from Davis (Hightower kick), 4:03. Drive: 55 yards in 5 plays. Key plays: Baca 12-yard run to Clovis 43. La Cueva 40, Clovis 0.
First downs 13 5
Rushes-yards 37-285 25-24
Passing yards 104 60
Total yards 389 60
Com-att-int 7-9-1 6-11-0
Punts-yards 1-40 8-39
Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-1
Penalties-yards 5-40 315
RUSHING — La Cueva, Franke Baca 21-206, Seth Johnson 9-42, Zach Arnett 2-14, Tyler Davis 3-(-11), Clint McPeek 1-13, Tyler Cormier 1-21. Clovis, Phillip Williams 14-35, Tanner Fickling 4-0, Matt Ulibarri 1-(-7), John Props 6-(-4).
PASSING — La Cueva, Davis 7-9-104-0. Clovis, Props 6-11-60-0.
RECEIVING — La Cueva, Baca 1-9, Joe Gherardi 1-12, Greyson Wieczorek 2-35, Johnson 2-46, Nicholas Knee 1-7. Clovis, Jones 2-26, Chris Finch 2-20, Fickling 1-13, Walker 1-1.