La Cueva coach Fred Romero can’t keep Ronnie Daniels off the field. The Clovis Wildcats couldn’t keep the Bears off the scoreboard.
Daniels rushed for a season-high 322 yards and three touchdowns on 34 carries, and defending Class 5A champion La Cueva rode a series of big plays to hold off Clovis 41-21 Friday night at Leon Williams Stadium.
Stan Stedberry added 132 yards rushing and a pair of long touchdowns for La Cueva (3-0), which extended its winning streak to 14 games and snapped Clovis’ home winning streak at 13.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Daniels got things started with a 57-yard rush up the middle three plays into the game, and ended his night with a 31-yard score down the sidelines to snuff out any Wildcat comeback chances.
“He has been (a workhorse),” Romero said of Daniels, who also plays linebacker on defense. “He draws a lot of attention that opens it up for others.”
Early in the game, Daniels passed Mike Hathcock of Aztec (now playing for Eastern New Mexico University) for second place in career rushing yards. Daniels, at 4,752 yards, needs 960 yards to pass state record-holder Lance Fikany of Fort Sumner.
Clovis, meanwhile, has dropped two straight since having a historic moment — the 300th win for longtime coach Eric Roanhaus.
Since the 40-0 season-opening win over Alamogordo, the Wildcats (1-2) have been outscored 76-21. But Wildcats assistant coach Darren Kelley said it was less upsetting than the 35-0 setback last week against Eldorado.
“The best thing is they came out tonight and didn’t quit, and we played hard,” Kelley said. “The worst thing about tonight was we didn’t tackle very well.”
There were plenty of fireworks to start the night, as the teams rolled out 244 yards of offense in the first 2:15 of the contest. After Daniels’ run, Jordan Hill found Corbin Best for an 80-yard bomb up the middle.
Three plays later, Stedberry gave the Bears the lead for good with a 63-yard dash down the left sidelines.
La Cueva gained 483 yards, 470 on the ground.
But the big plays were the keys. Of the Bears’ six scores , four of them were for longer than 30 yards, including a 59-yarder by Stedberry early in the fourth quarter.
“Good teams have got to make plays,” Kelley said. “We didn’t make enough of them on defense.”
Quran Wiggins led Clovis with 50 yards on 12 carries, before leaving midway through the contest with a hamstring injury.
“We lost our starting cornerback (Juan Rivas, finger), we had a running back go out with a hamstring injury,” Kelley said. “We had some kids that did a good job of stepping up.”
In what may have been the Bears’ biggest weakness, Clovis put up most of its yards through the air. Best caught five passes for 109 yards and all three Clovis touchdowns, and Hill completed passes to five Wildcats for 190 yards.