It was the Josh Perry Show again at Lightning Bolt Stadium Friday night, when the senior running back rushed for 212 yards and four touchdowns as No. 1 Cleveland advanced into the Class 6A semifinals for the seventh season in a row after a 49-9 rout of No. 9 Los Lunas.
The Storm (9-2), who’ll meet District 1-6A foe Volcano Vista (10-2) in a semifinal Friday at 7 p.m. at Nusenda Community Stadium, scored the first five times they had the ball.
The Hawks beat No. 4 Hobbs 35-31 Friday night on the Eagles’ field.
No. 2 La Cueva (10-1) meets No. 3 Centennial (9-1) Satuurday at 1 p.m. at the Field of Dreams.
Perry capped a brief four-play scoring drive the first time Cleveland had the ball, a drive shortened by a 31-yard gain by Andres Aguirre, on a 5-yard run.
Los Lunas (7-5), with most of its offense in the contest coming from senior quarterback Paul Ciereman’s legs, punted on its next possession, giving the Storm the ball on their own 21.
Quarterback Evan Wysong handed the ball to Perry on the first play and he went the distance, with Jeff Bem adding his second of seven points-after in the game.
The Storm extended what had been a 14-0 lead after the first period to 35-0 by halftime.
After Psalmon Kegler sacked Cieremans on a fourth-down play, giving the Storm the ball on the Los Lunas 49, Wysong found Andres Armijo in front of his defender in the end zone for an 11-yard scoring pass.
The Tigers then went three-and-out, thanks to back-to-back sacks by Louie Birch and Chuka Tutman, and Kaden Bell punted from the end line – only to see Nic Trujillo return the punt 20 yards to the Los Lunas 21.
Wysong raced on first down to the 1, and Perry went into the end zone untouched on the next play.
Trying to punt the next time the Tigers had the ball, a low snap made Bell decide to run with the ball, and although he gained 18 yards on the play, the Storm got the ball on downs.
Seven plays later, Wysong ran the ball in from the 10, and it was 35-0 and the clock was rolling almost non-stop.
After the Tigers kicked the ball into the end zone to start the second half, Perry zigged and zagged 80 yards for his final TD of the game, spending the rest of the half trying to stay warm as head coach Robert Garza pulled the starters, and freshman quarterback Jordan Hatch ran the offense the rest of the way.
Cieremans got his team its lone touchdown on a 57-yard run late in the third quarter, and Bell closed out the scoring on a 36-yard field goal.
Storm junior Harris Mbueha, who wound up with 97 rushing yards on only 12 carries, all in the second half, scored Cleveland’s final TD on a 4-yard run with 8:18 left to go.
“They thought they were going to come out, thought they had something with the run game,” CHS coach Robert Garza said. The Tigers only amassed 126 rushing yards on 37 attempts – thanks to four sacks of Cieremans, offsetting his long TD run.
“This is November football,” he said. “Keep it going.”
The Storm beat Volcano Vista 56-21 in their 1-6A meeting at Lightning Bolt Stadium on Sept. 30, when Perry found the end zone five times. All time, the Storm are 12-2 vs. the Hawks, including a 43-39 victory in the 2018 semifinals, played at Cleveland.
If the Storm beat the Hawks, they’ll host the 6A championship game Nov. 26 if Centennial can beat La Cueva. If La Cueva beats the Hawks, La Cueva will host the title tilt.