Lopsided football games are what Cleveland High School football fans are used to seeing at Lightning Bolt Stadium, and that’s what they saw Friday night: a 35-0 shutout
Four first-half touchdowns, each 66 yards and longer and never needing more than 10 plays. And a second-half TD, played with a running clock, that required only four plays to go 35 yards. It had been set up on an interception returned 60 yards.
Cleveland fans were seeing a great team running amuck, only this time it wasn’t their Storm (3-3), who have lost three of their last four games.
The Frenship Tigers (5-0) were 5 of 6 on third down in the first half, and senior quarterback Hudson Hutcheson threw for 241 yards and all four TDs, two each to Chase Campbell and Maverick Allen.
Jordon Hernandez closed out the scoring on a 2-yard run, set up when the Tigers intercepted a second aerial thrown by CHS quarterback Jordan Hatch.
Unofficially, Hutcheson was 26 of 34 passing for 277 yards. The Tigers manage only 73 rushing yards, but only used the ground game 19 times, and two of those plays were sacks.
Senior Harris Mbueha led the CHS offense with 93 rushing yards on 11 carries, all in the first half, when he’d incurred what appeared to be a minor injury before returning to the field. He sat out the second half as a precautionary measure, coach Robert Garza said.
Mbueha said he felt disappointed, but the loss, “is just personal for us. We’ve got to step up.”
After all, Volcano Vista is on deck next Friday, Sept. 29, at Community Stadium.
“We’ve got to figure it out; we’ve got no choice,” he said. “Go with what we’ve got and get better; that’s the only choice we’ve got.
“That’s a really good football team,” he said of Frenship, which beat the Storm 56-52 last season in Texas. “We shot ourselves in the foot. We actually drove the ball early, we just never punched it in.”
The Storm got as close to the goal line as the 17 in the first half, but a fourth-down pass lost four yards. The best field position in the second half was the Tigers’ 6, when Hatch threw an interception.
“We know what we got. We can’t go out and re-invent anything,” Garza lamented. “We’ve just got to get better at what we do.”
It was the second loss in a row for the Storm, now 3-3 and at .500 for the first time since the 2012 season.
It was the Storm’s third-worst loss in school history, and just the third time they’ve been shut out.
Carlsbad beat the Storm 52-0 on the road in the debut season of 2009; Las Cruces beat the Storm 45-7 in a 2016 state semifinal at Cleveland; and Rio Rancho posted the second of three shutouts suffered by Cleveland in the regular-season finale, 35-0, also at Cleveland, back in November 2012.
Storm warnings: The Storm are 13-2 all-time vs. the Hawks, one of the district’s best teams, but a 56-21 victim of the Storm last season at Lightning Bolt Stadium. The Storm later in ’22 knocked the Hawks out of the postseason, 47-24, at Community Stadium. Two years ago, the Storm rallied from a 20-0 halftime deficit to beat the Hawks at Community Stadium.