ALBUQUERQUE — Cleveland simply had too much firepower Friday night for Cibola.
Senior quarterback Evan Wysong scored on a 63-yard touchdown run on the Storm’s first play from scrimmage and Cleveland (7-2, 3-0 in 1-6A) rolled from there in a 50-0 mercy-rule shortened triumph over the Cougars (6-3, 1-3) at Nusenda Community Stadium.
A 34-yard punt return touchdown from Jaden Smith ended the scoring for the Storm with 3:26 left in the second quarter, and the game was called off at halftime.
It’s the seventh game in a row the Storm have scored 46 or more points, with six of those victories. In their three district games thus far, they have put 56, 54 and now 50 points on the scoreboard.
Cleveland had scoring drives of one, three, two and one play in an overwhelming first period that removed any suspense from the game. Cibola showed brief signs of life on its opening possession following Wysong’s aforementioned TD scamper, but a 14-play march ended in a turnover on downs at the Cleveland 6.
With star quarterback Aden Chavez again watching on crutches from the sideline, the Cougars struggled to muster any consistent offense. All told, they were outgained by the Storm by a 351-to-17 margin in total yardage.
Cleveland was especially effective running the ball, with six plays of 20 or more yards and scoring runs by Wysong, Josh Perry (twice) and Harris Mbueha. The Storm’s big-play brigade also featured a 56-yard scoring toss from Wysong to Nic Trujillo.
Storm coach Robert Garza credited the offensive line, which opened massive holes all evening to the tune of 247 yards rushing.
“It didn’t matter who was running the ball,” he said. “You’ve got to give credit to those five guys. They came off and made sure to pave the way. They’re coming a long ways. We got those two sophomores that have been starting all year; they’ve really stepped up and started to play like upperclassmen.”
It was nearly a flawless performance for Cleveland — with one notable exception. The abbreviated game was marred by flags, and the Storm unofficially accrued 13 penalties for 125 yards. Numerous unsportsmanlike conduct fouls were called, and the game became so chippy at one point that the officials called Garza and Cibola coach Chris Howe onto the field for a brief conference.
“I honestly don’t even know how to comment to that,” Garza said. “It was very frustrating, I’ll say.”
Outside of that, however, Garza was quite pleased with his team’s performance.
“We’ve just got to clean up the penalties. We came off the ball well, and we executed the way we should. It was good to see,” he said.
The Storm’s regular-season finale is Friday at 7, when Rio Rancho visits for the annual City of Vision championship game.
The Storm have won the last seven times the teams have met.