Clovis High School senior Phillip Williams tries to get around a Pampa defender as he looks for a opening during the first half of Friday’s game in Pampa, Texas. Williams ran for three touchdowns in the Wildcats’ 20-18 loss. CNJ photo by Eric Kluth
By Mike Linn: CNJ news editor
PAMPA, Texas — A dropped two-point conversion after a bobbled snap. A missed extra-point. A wide-open receiver in the end zone overthrown.
The little things that drive coaches mad plagued the Clovis Wildcats on Friday night, allowing the Pampa Harvesters to survive an end-of-the-game comeback and hang on for a 20-18 win in front of an estimated 3,500 Pampa faithful.
The Harvesters (1-1) outplayed the Wildcats (0-2) in nearly every category, but four Pampa turnovers and a spirited Wildcat rally late kept the fans restless and the Cats on the prowl.
“We’ve got to execute in these situations,” Wildcat defensive coordinator Darren Kelley said. “We’ve got to show the same emotions for four quarters that we showed in the fourth quarter. They don’t realize how big every play is … but we’re going to get better.”
After their final touchdown with four minutes remaining and down 20-18, the Wildcats went for the two points. But Clovis broke the huddle with 12 players and were forced back to the 8-yard-line. From there, Wildcats quarterback John Props rolled right and just overthrew a wide-open Chris Finch in the end zone and the Wildcats’ rally fell short.
“They did everything to win the football game,” Pampa coach Heath Parker said. “If it wasn’t for a few mistakes they might have won it easily. It’s a proud tradition in Clovis and I knew they were going to come back in the second half and fight us.”
Down 14-0 at the half, the Cats didn’t get on the scoreboard until the last two minutes of the third quarter, when tailback Phillip Williams sprinted by Pampa defenders for a 19-yard touchdown run. But a muffed snap and a dropped two-point try on the same play cost the Wildcats the PAT.
The touchdown was the first points of the season for the Wildcats, and seemed to jump-start the offense.
But Pampa responded with its only sustained drive of the game, with Seth Foster scoring from 20 yards out to restore the Harvesters’ two-touchdown cushion.
Williams had a big second half for the Wildcats and finished with 92 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
The Wildcats were also aided by the arm of John Props (5 of 17 for 66 yards), who converted on two third-and-longs in the second half to keep drives alive.
“John did a good job; he’s got to be our leader, the guy who makes the big play,” Kelley said.
But the Wildcats’ quarterback had trouble with his receivers, who dropped as many passes as they caught.
Even so, Kelley said breakdowns in defense were even more crucial in the loss.
Pampa senior Sharod Young returned a punt 52 yards for a touchdown after Clovis’ second three-and-out series to start the game; Cam Segar broke containment and bolted 41 yards to make it 14-0 with 2:37 left in the first quarter; and Foster sprinted by Clovis defenders for a 20-yard touchdown early in the fourth.
The Harvesters (209 yards) edged the Wildcats (122 yards) on the ground. Pampa finished with 240 yards to Clovis’ 188 yards.
Clovis 0 0 6 12 —18
Pampa 14 0 0 6 —20
P — Sharod Young 51 punt return (Seth Foster kick)
P — Cam Segar 41 run (Foster kick)
C — Phillip Williams 18 run (kick failed)
P — Foster 20 run (kick failed)
C — Williams 20 run (kick failed)
C — Williams 2 run (pass failed)
First Downs 8 13
Yards Rushing 80 204
Yards Passing 62 46
Total Yards Gained 142 250
Comp-Att-Int 5-15-1 4-9-2
Punts-Avg 7-41 3-29
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 5-3
Penalties-Yards 9-50 5-37