RIO RANCHO -- Thump. Thump. Two sounds back-to-back that are any coach's nightmare.
The first thump was the ball leaving Clovis punter Tre Orozco's foot. The second was the ball hitting Cleveland's Reese White's hands.
Bryce Abeyta scooped up the blocked punt and stumbled three yards to the end zone for a touchdown that helped the upstart Storm rally to beat Clovis 28-17 Friday night in a non-district game at Rio Rancho.
The special team's score ended a nightmare three minutes for the Wildcats that also included a 44-yard pass from backup Storm quarterback Travis Lonergan to Thomas Knox to the Clovis 1-yard line on third-and-31, with Abram Holland scoring on the next play as the Storm retook the lead at 22-17.
"Third and 31, we almost sack (Lonergan) twice, then we let them get behind us," Clovis defensive coordinator Darren Kelley said. "We've got to be able to adjust as the game goes on.
"We've got to be able make the big plays. We didn't make the big plays on defense and we didn't make the big plays on offense."
Actually, Clovis did make a lot of big plays in the second half, just not when it counted the most.
Junior Raymond Beachum raced 70 yards for a touchdown on the second play from scrimmage in the third quarter and senior Quran Wiggins darted 78 yards for another score three minutes later as Clovis rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit to take a 17-14 lead.
The Wildcats (1-3) also stopped a Cleveland drive that reached their 2-yard line in the third quarter, but it wasn't enough to avoid a third-straight loss.
"We've got to go back to work Monday," Kelley said. "But if we don't start busting our tails during the week and start listening to what we're being asked to do it could be a really long season. We have to have some seniors step up and be leaders."
The mood on the other side of the field was obviously a little more upbeat for Cleveland (4-0), which needs only one more victory to match last year's win total.
"Any time you beat Clovis it's a big win," Cleveland coach Kirk Potter said. "The biggest thing was if we had a third quarter like that last year it would have crushed us. But we were able to battle through the adversity."
The adversity included losing starting quarterback Cole Gautsche to a leg injury midway through the third quarter. Gautsche had rushed for 104 yards and a first-quarter touchdown and passed for another 38 yards.
But in came Lonergan, a lanky 6-foot-6, 190-pound senior to pick up the slack. The strong-armed Lonegran completed 4-of-6 passes for 76 yards, including the back-breaking pass to Knox after he had been sacked on the two previous plays.
"It was kind of tough on (Lonergan) to have to switch from wide receiver," Potter said. "But he really delivered and made some big plays."
The Wildcats were able to move the ball on the ground most of the night -- Wiggins finished with 160 yards and Beachum 106 yards, but Clovis was unable to give Jordan Hill time to throw.
Harassed by Holland in the middle and Reese on the outside, Hill finished 3-of-18 for 36 yards and was sacked four times.