Clovis quarterback Kyler Brewer-Hill fought for extra yards, and won a battle for extra yardage with Onate linebacker Zachary Hernandez on a fourth-quarter keeper.
After getting the extra yards against Hernandez, who had a 20-pound advantage on the Wildcat quarterback, Brewer-Hill told his teammates on the sideline, “He don’t want a shot at the title.”
Brewer-Hill and the Wildcats still have one, surviving an off-night in the rushing game and a challenge from the fifth-seeded Knights in a 21-13 Class 5A quarterfinal win at Leon Williams Stadium.
Clovis (9-2), winners of six straight, take on the winner of Saturday’s quarterfinal between Eldorado and Mayfield.
Brewer-Hill threw for two of Clovis’ three touchdowns as the Wildcats gained more in 11 pass attempts (five completions for 188 yards) than on 34 rushes (150).
“It was there when we needed it,” Clovis junior running back Juan Rivas said of the Wildcat rushing game. “When they stopped our run, we just started throwing it.”
Rivas had a little of each, with 11 carries for 43 yards and a 52-yard pass from Brewer-Hill for what turned out to be the go-ahead touchdown late in the second quarter.
“It felt so good,” said Rivas, who saw his first game action since suffering a shoulder injury in the season opener at Alamogordo. “It felt great to show what I could do out on the field.”
Senior Richie Chavez, who has mainly starred on defense for the Wildcats this season, had both of Clovis’ other touchdowns — one on a 64-yard pass up the middle from Jordan Hill, the other a 15-yard fourth-quarter fade pass from Brewer-Hill to give the Wildcats breathing room.
“The defense stepped it up,” Chavez said, “and the offense had to do something.”
Clovis gave up 313 yards on the night, but gave up a third of those yards on two plays — a 40-yard Aaron Sandoval run on a drive that ended with a goal-line stand on the Wildcat 3, and a 63-yard Sandoval reception that set up his 5-yard scoring run late in the first half.
“I think defensively, we did great other than two big plays,” Clovis assistant Darren Kelley said. “One of them was a busted assignment, the other was a great play by the quarterback.”
Clovis had big plays of its own, with the two 50-yard-plus passing scores and a 45-yard toss from Brewer-Hill to Chavez on the final scoring drive. But the plays Onate coach Kelly McKee will look back on are the three drives that ended on downs inside the Clovis red zone, along with two other failed drives in Clovis territory.
“I felt like we could move the ball, but we couldn’t capitalize when we got the ball near the end zone,” said McKee, at the helm for Onate since 1997. “I don’t know if it’s the bus trip of the crowd or what, but in a close game you can’t let those opportunities get away.”
Now, Clovis awaits its next opportunity. If Mayfield, the top seed in 5A wins, the game will be next weekend in Las Cruces. An Eldorado upset would have Clovis back at Leon Williams Stadium with a finals berth on the line.
“Whoever they put us against,” Chavez said, “we want them.”
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