Wins aren’t coming easy for the Clovis Wildcats. But nothing came easy for the Artesia Bulldogs.
An unrelenting Clovis defense held the powerful Bulldog offense in check, and the Wildcats survived with a pair of second-quarter touchdowns to outlast Artesia 13-7 Friday night at Leon Williams Stadium.
The Wildcats (3-4) allowed 227 yards of offense in holding Artesia 40 points below their regular season average.
Artesia had twice hit the 50-point mark and had never been held below 38 coming into Friday’s matchup.
“We just tried to contain No. 11,” Clovis linebacker Boone Wheeler said of Artesia’s Andy Lopez, who rushed for 115 yards, “not give him any gifts and just play tough.”
Mission accomplished, with a few exceptions. Lopez had a 41-yard rush on Artesia’s only scoring drive, which ended with a Josh Houghtaling’s 5-yard toss to Dacotah Watts in the third quarter.
Otherwise, Artesia (4-3) never got inside the Clovis 30.
“Their defense did a really good job,” longtime Artesia coach Cooper Henderson said. “I think they played really well; didn’t give up many big plays.”
The Wildcat offense did its part too, using its running attack to keep the Bulldog offense watching from the sidelines. All 268 of Clovis’ yards came on runs, including a 3-yard dive by Raymond Beachum and a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Jordan Hill.
Beachum’s scoring run, like many Wildcat runs on the night, wouldn’t have gone nearly as far without second and third efforts.
“I was just trying to keep my feet under me,” said Beachum, who carried 13 times for 97 yards. “That’s what we’ve been working on in practice.”
Quran Wiggins led the Wildcats with 103 yards on 21 carries.
The Wildcats only threw twice — one fell incomplete, and another was picked off in the end zone by Artesia’s Trevor Whitmire with eight minutes left to stop a “nail in the coffin” touchdown.
“I thought our defense, second half, stepped up and gave us some chances to win the game,” Henderson said. “But, Clovis stepped up on defense as well.”
Junior strong safety Tre Orozco came up big first in the fourth quarter, intercepting a screen pass from Houghtaling at midfield.
“I noticed every time he was under ... he threw quick routes,” Orozco said, “and I just played the play.”
Artesia got a pair of drives late in the fourth quarter. Boone Wheeler stopped Koby Caton on a fourth-down screen pass to snuff out one, and a gang of Wildcats tackled Lopez on the final play of the game — a last chance the Bulldogs got because Clovis misplayed the clock and turned the ball over on downs with a second to go from their 39.