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Clovis taken by Storm

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RIO RANCHO — With what will likely be the No. 1 team in the state coming in next week, it only gets harder from here for the Clovis Wildcats.

Not that it was especially easy this week, as Clovis ran into a buzzsaw Friday night at Cleveland and went home with a 35-13 defeat.

link Staff photo: Kevin Wilson

Clovis senior Jordan Holguin does just enough to trip up Cleveland receiver Adam Cook in the first quarter of Friday night's game at Cleveland High School. The Storm defeated Clovis 35-13.

The Storm (3-1) got a pair of touchdown runs from Jesse Nieto — a 65-yarder for a 14-0 lead early, and one in the final period from 39 yards out to put the nail in the coffin.

The Storm never trailed, taking a lead on the opening drive when Marcus Williams hauled in a 31-yard touchdown from junior Gabe Ortega.

Cleveland only went to the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Williams three times -- the touchdown, another score that was called back on a penalty and a pass up the middle he dropped -- but had more than enough weapons on a 449-yard night of offense.

“I thought we executed really well, really worked the ball around,” Cleveland coach and former Clovis assistant Heath Ridenour said. “The quarterback threw the ball where he needed to throw it. He doesn’t need to throw it to Williams, just where it needs to be.”

Ortega threw for a pair of scores, including an 11-yarder to Adam Cook late in the first half, and ran for a 7-yard score in the third quarter to cap a 15-play drive.

“He’s a young quarterback, and he’s done a good job taking control of the offense,” said Ridenour, a former quarterback at Eastern New Mexico University. “He’s a student of the game. He studies as much film as I do.”

Clovis, meanwhile, never recovered from a slow start, not picking up a first down until it trailed 14-0 and never crossing the Cleveland 30-yard line until early in the fourth quarter on its scoring drives.

“We gave up two big plays to Nieto, and another one on the first touchdown,” Clovis coach Eric Roanhaus said. “Our defense got better, and I think we showed some improvement. We’ve got to be better up front offensive, and make better decisions. Our decisions weren’t good in the first half. By the time we were making good decisions in the second half, the game was out of hand.”

The Wildcats finally got on the board with 8:29 to play on Juan San Juan’s 18-yard run, set up by Christian Caldwell’s 11-yard reception on fourth down. Caldwell got on the board himself just over four minutes later with a 14-yard scoring catch, his second touchdown of the year.

“In the second half we executed well, played pretty even with them, and that’s something we can build on,” Roanhaus said.

Junior quarterback Daulton Hatley completed 7-of-17 passes for 125 yards and both scores, and carried the ball five times for 23 yards.

The Wildcats return home Friday, but face a tall task in Rio Rancho. Across the city Friday night, the Rams defeated second-ranked Las Cruces 34-20, and have a chance to jump Mayfield in the rankings next week.