State notebook: Wildcats stall after TD

Mayfield quarterback David Bustillos celebrates a 77-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown pass that gave he Trojans a 17-7 lead. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer

In the regular season, the Wildcats were only down at halftime twice, against La Cueva and Hobbs, and came back to win both games. On Saturday, Clovis came out of the halftime locker room down 3-0, again looking for a second-half comeback.

In the opening drive of the third quarter, the Wildcats put together a five-minute drive ending when Tanner Fickling found the end zone on a 10-yard run.

Fickling said that drive had a different feel than any other possession in the game.

“In that drive, not much was said,” the senior said. “In the other drives we kept saying, ‘We’ve got to do this, we’ve got to do this.’ And in (the scoring drive) we just came out, shook our heads, and it was kind of understood that we had to go score.”

Fickling did just that, bouncing outside and scampering into the end zone.

“It was… oh man, I can’t explain it,” Fickling said. “Whenever we broke out of the huddle Brian (Mead) looked at me and we almost couldn’t believe (the play) was to me and not him. It was my job just to get it in there, and it worked out for us.”

For the next five minutes of the game, the Wildcats were on top, staring down a state championship.

“It was incredible,” senior offensive lineman Mel Grassel said. “I was so happy, I was just praying for our defense to stop them. I don’t know how to describe it.”

The Cats couldn’t hold the lead, as Mayfield scored 14 unanswered points after Fickling’s touchdown.

Senior quarterback Devin Sweet said having the lead means little if you can not hang on to it.

“Leading (in the game) really doesn’t mean nothing until that final buzzer goes off,” Sweet said. “Whoever is on top then is your winner.”

REFLECTING ON HIS CAREER as a Wildcat, senior lineman Chase Denton said the things he will miss most are the bus rides on road trips and the antics of Moore.

Of Moore’s comedic routines, Denton’s favorite is his “Wildcat hurdle.”

“Everyone starts saying, ‘Go, go, go, go,’” Denton explained. “And then he takes off running and he does like a ballerina hop over the Wildcat in the locker room.”

THE WILDCAT OFFENSE HAD become accustomed to getting big plays almost every game, but on this Saturday there were no 55-yard runs or 90-yard kickoff returns.

“I think we came out ready to play, but things just weren’t going our way, big plays weren’t happening,” Moore said. “Usually we have big plays every game, and we didn’t have one big play in this game. Nothing really good happened for us.”

Sweet said the defense allowed the Trojans to make the game-changing plays.

“We just had to step up on defense, and we didn’t,” Sweet said. “That was kinda the outcome of the game. We let them have the big plays.”

MOORE SAID ONE OF HIS favorite things in his senior season was being a leader to the younger players.

“We’ve got lots of young kids,” Moore said. “It’s cool for us, as seniors, to show them the ropes and everything. They look up to us, I know they do because when I was a younger guy I was always looking up to (the upperclassmen).”