By Greg Price: CNJ sports writer
CARLSBAD — Jordan Mendoza and Bryce Hill took advantage of a second chance.
Mendoza’s 19-yard pass to Hill on fourth-and-9 kept alive a key drive, and Brian Mead scored on a 6-yard run a few plays later as Clovis survived a scare to beat Carlsbad 20-13 on Friday at Ralph Bowyer Stadium.
The Wildcats’ come-from behind win gave Clovis the District 4-5A title and an automatic berth in the state playoffs.
Prior to his connection with Hill, Mendoza threw incomplete to junior Manuel Robles on third down.
“He misread the pass first time,” Hill said. “But we ran it again, and it was a good pass, and he put it on the money.”
Mead gave Clovis (7-3, 2-0 district) some breathing room on his third TD of the game, a 16-yard burst with 20 second left.
Mead finished with 188 yards on the ground, while Robles added 63 yards for an offense that struggled in the first half.
Junior quarterback Nathan Clark completed 15-of-30 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns for the Cavemen (3-7, 0-2), who led 13-7 at halftime.
Senior wide receiver Bubba Forrest caught eight passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns.
“In the first half, they had a good game plan and we couldn’t get adjusted,” Clovis assistant coach Darren Kelley said. “We finally did get adjusted, but it was after their first touchdown.”
Clark and Forrest did most of their damage, combing for five completions for 105 yards.
With 5:35 remaining in the first quarter, Clark rifled a short pass to Forrest, who took it 29 yards to paydirt.
“(On) the first touchdown, we missed three tackles,” Kelley said. “We just weren’t ready to play. They did a good job with the formation, got us where they could have one-on-one (with their receivers).”
Clark and Forrest connected again for a 49-yard touchdown play with 1:19 left in the first half.
The Cats burst out of the gate in the second half, both offensively and defensively, as they shut Carlsbad out for the rest of the game.
While Mead gained 108 yards in the first half, most of it came on a 56-yard touchdown scamper that answered Forrest’s first touchdown with 4:34 remaining in the first quarter.
Robles believes the Cats can go deep in the playoffs.
“I feel we’ll probably be good, as long as we play hard,” Robles said. “Harder than we played in the first half (tonight).”