By Kevin Wilson
CNJ staff writer
Even though it’s technically artificial turf, Rio Rancho’s 62-59 win over Clovis was best described by the Albuquerque Journal’s James Yodice as “a video game on grass.”
There were so many points scored Friday night, the Wildcats ran both of their two-point conversion plays, and ended up with eight points.
After a botched snap on a first-half extra point, Clovis decided to chase points only when it had to, letting Adam Wagener kick until the waning moments of the fourth.
Trailing 49-47 with 4:31 left after an 11-yard touchdown run by Cass — his seventh to break a school record — the Wildcats decided to go for it. Quarterback Dakotah Yandell made a play-action fake to Cass, then lobbed a perfect ball to Peyton Lott for the score.
The second time Clovis ran a two-point conversion play, it was for six. Facing a fourth-and-5, Yandell made another play-action fake to Cass. The defense didn’t follow Cass this time, and he ended up wide open for Yandell to hit him at the 4. Cass made a spin move and plunged in with 29 seconds left in regulation.
Had the second conversion play not been used in regulation, it might have been an option to use in overtime. Instead, coach Eric Roanhaus trusted Wagener, and he responded with a 24-yard field goal on a fourth-and-7 play.
The Rams did score a touchdown on a 10-yard reception by Tristen Foley, but Clovis at least put the onus on Rio Rancho to score.
“He’s going to give his kids a chance to win the game and step up,’ Rio Rancho coach David Howes said. “I was glad he went for a field goal in that situation, but that is a tough decision. I probably would have done the same thing.”
Big numbers: Blame defenses, blame the spread game, blame the other political party, but scoring is up at the high school level.
Friday marked the 15th time in school history the Wildcats notched at least 55 points in a game, and the first time they when doing so. They reached the 55-point mark three times last season, and six times since 2007.
Not surprisingly, Clovis is 0-4 when surrendering at least 55. That’s happened three times in the last four seasons.
Not automatic: In overtime, Clovis faced a third-and-9, and appeared to have a conversion with Traivon Sopila on a fade route. He was tackled as the ball arrived, and the flag was thrown for pass interference.
The chain crew was told first down, and the scoreboard marked first down from the 4. When Cass was stopped for a 3-yard loss, it was suddenly fourth down.
Despite the confusion, it was realized that starting this season, a pass interference is no longer an automatic first down. Roanhaus was displeased with being told Clovis had a first down when it didn’t, but acknowledged he had been at the rules meeting and was told about that rule.
Roanhaus did muse that for future reference, the smarter play on a sure touchdown might be to intentionally commit the penalty.
Second option: Despite not getting into the end zone, Sopila was a key second offensive threat for the Wildcats, with 142 yards of offense and a 102-yard rushing night.
Sopila’s 40-yard reception in the first quarter put Clovis at the Rio Rancho 35 and his 52-yard run in the second quarter, set up by a block from Christian Caldwell, moved the Wildcats to the 16. Both drives ended with Clovis touchdowns.
His closest foray into the end zone came on a 15-yard reverse, handed to him by Cass.
Howes knew Sopila would be a threat coming in.
“We’d seen him,” Howes said. “We knew they were going to run that flash motion. We knew they were going to lure us.”
Up the Creek: This is a weekly feature checking in on Cherry Creek, Colo., the opening-night opponent for Clovis.
The Bruins, ranked 10th in Colorado 5A, moved to 3-1 with a 20-6 win against Overland.
Around District 4-5A: The Battle of Eddy County went to the Carlsbad Cavemen, who scored the game’s first 27 points en route to a 41-21 victory over the Artesia Bulldogs. Rodney Holcomb opened the scoring with a 65-yard touchdown rush in the first quarter and added three rushing touchdowns.
The Cavemen (3-2) have only won three of the last 11 matchups with Artesia, but lead the all-time series 31-28-2 and are up 21-14 since the game was played annually starting in 1978.
The Hobbs Eagles, meanwhile, came crashing down to earth Friday night against Goddard. Hobbs (4-1) had turnovers on four of its first five possessions, and the Rockets capitalized as they normally do en route to a 41-0 halftime lead.
Cody French ran 20 times for 120 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Cameron Neff completed 3-of-4 passes for a touchdown and also ran eight times for 145 yards with three touchdowns.
Next: Clovis hosts Goddard. The homecoming is the last home game of the pre-district season.