Cleveland’s big plays sink Cats

By Kevin Wilson

CMI staff writer

kwilson@cnjonline.com

CLOVIS — Three quarters was more than enough for the Cleveland Storm. One quarter was hardly enough for the Clovis Wildcats.

CMI staff photo: Kevin Wilson Clovis defenders Jordan Holguin, left, and Kaine Bender team up to bring down Cleveland running back Jesse Nieto in the first half Friday at Leon Williams Stadium.

CMI staff photo: Kevin Wilson
Clovis defenders Jordan Holguin, left, and Kaine Bender team up to bring down Cleveland running back Jesse Nieto in the first half Friday at Leon Williams Stadium.

Heading into its bye week, the visiting Storm looked every bit the part of a Class 5A state title contender, dominating three quarters on the road to post a 41-21 win Friday night at Clovis.

The Storm (4-0) rolled out 528 yards of offense against the overmatched Wildcats, including 209 in the first quarter en route to an early 21-0 advantage.

Jesse Nieto rushed for 171 of his 234 yards in the second half, and posted three touchdowns on the night. He scored on a slip screen for 23 yards with five minutes left in the third, minutes after he opened the third quarter with a 52-yard burst for his second rushing touchdown.

Nieto also had a 6-yard scoring run four minutes into the game.

“Jessie Nieto did a great job,” Cleveland coach and former Eastern New Mexico University quarterback Heath Rideneour said. “He’s not big, but he’s shifty. Our offensive line did a great job blocking. They were undersized.”

Quarterback Kian Homme was 16-of-30 passing for 248 yards and two touchdown tosses against three interceptions. All three picks came courtesy of Kaine Bender in the second quarter, with one setting up a 90-yard Kamal Cass touchdown run.

Other than that, the big plays belonged to the Storm, including Sterling Napier’s eight receptions for 111 yards.

CMI staff photo: Kevin Wilson Clovis defenders Jordan Holguin, left, and Alfonso Rivas break up a fourth-down pass intended for Cleveland receiver Andre LiRosi in the fourth quarter Friday night at Leon Williams Stadium.

CMI staff photo: Kevin Wilson
Clovis defenders Jordan Holguin, left, and Alfonso Rivas break up a fourth-down pass intended for Cleveland receiver Andre LiRosi in the fourth quarter Friday night at Leon Williams Stadium.

“He’s a big target with good hands and he runs well,” Ridenour said of Napier. “That’s what a Division-I player looks like.”

Clovis coach Eric Roanhaus declined postgame comment, noting, “If I said what I wanted to say, I’d probably be fired.”

Cass led the Wildcats (1-3) with 207 yards on 20 carries, providing the Wildcats with most of their 274 yards of offense. No other Wildcat had more than 45 yards on the night.

Andre LiRosi had four catches for 74 yards, and the Storm got a 14-yard scoring reception by Tyler Wilson and scoring runs of 3 and 15 yards by Mackay Dunlap.

Cleveland is off next week, and will prepare for Highland in two weeks.

The rough stretch continues for Clovis, which travels to Rio Rancho on Friday before hosting Goddard on Oct. 4.

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