“Lightning Bolt Stadium,” the nickname of the Cleveland High football field, was exactly that Friday night, as lightning throughout the Metro area – and too close for a game to start at 7 p.m. – delayed the kickoff until 8:43 p.m.
As it turned out, it was a former El Paso high school running back that did the damage for the Storm, as former Andress High two-sport standout Dorian Lewis carried the ball 26 times for 215 yards and scored four times in Cleveland’s 35-21 victory over the visiting El Paso Franklin Cougars.
Lewis, a junior who made his debut Aug. 24 in Las Cruces, gave the Storm (2-0) the early lead, cap-ping their first possession – a 14-play, 93-yard drive that ate up most of the first quarter – on a 2-yard run.
Early in the second stanza, he broke loose on a 40-yard scoring run, with William Gebhardt’s second of five points-after giving CHS a 14-0 lead.
After the Cougars (0-1) scored on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter, making it 14-all, Lewis, who gained 123 yards on the ground in the first half, caught a pass from quarterback Jeff Davison at the Cougars’ 20, on the Storm’s sideline, and hustled into the end zone. Gebhardt’s PAT made it 21-14 at halftime, shortened to 10 minutes.
After the Storm went three-and-out to start the second half, Franklin knotted the game for the final time on a quick, four-play, 63-yard drive.
Cleveland took the lead to keep on a 14-yard run by Lewis with 7:15 to go in the third period. Davison closed out the scoring on a nifty 45-yard run to paydirt in the first minute of the fourth quarter.
Cougars running back Taj Crenshaw gained 106 yards on 16 carries, leading his team’s offense, while CHS coach Heath Ridenour credited Franklin’s defense for its stoutness.
“That’s a good team, you’ve got to give them credit,” CHS coach Heath Ridenour said of the Cou-gars. “They’re well-coached; they play fast, they play hard. They didn’t give up one bit in any point of that game.”
The Cougars may have had an edge going in: They at least had an opportunity to see the Storm, briefly, though, in their 51-0 romp over Oñate in one half in Las Cruces last Friday; the Cougars opened their season at Cleveland, so the Storm had no film to watch.
“I think our defense really settled down; they gashed us in that second quarter, tied it up,” he said. “We were able to get a late one in the second quarter. But I was so proud of our kids – our coaches made great adjustments, put our kids in position to be successful… and stop the bleeding.”
Cleveland plays Eldorado (2-0) on Thursday at 7 at Wilson Stadium. Ridenour told his kids the Eagles had thrashed Las Cruces Friday, so Thursday’s showdown, he said, could be No. 1 (Cleveland) vs. No. 2.
In another lightning-delayed game played in Rio Rancho Friday night, Pine Creek (2-0) of Colorado Springs whipped Rio Rancho (0-2), 45-23. No details were available.