Rio Rancho has something new for its history books. Meantime, Clovis goes back to the drawing board.
In claiming a 21-17 win over Clovis, its first in school history over the Wildcats, Rio Rancho implemented a stunt-heavy defensive scheme in Tuesday’s practice, and it paid off.
“It's history, man,” defensive end Kevin Howerton told the Rio Rancho Journal. “I still got the chills from it.”
Practice was the key for Clovis, too, as assistant coach Darren Kelley said the team hasn’t been stringing together consistent and solid efforts leading up to game.
“The main thing for us is Monday through Thursday,” Kelley said. “We have to work hard in practice to be able to be successful.”
The Wildcats got their scores as the result of three big plays — a 25-yard interception return by Jordan Hill that put Clovis in position for a 27-yard Andrew North field goal, a 51-yard interception return by Emery Sierra and a 70-yard Quran Wiggins run to open the third period.
Otherwise, Clovis had difficulties executing throughout the night.
“The good thing is we played hard and we didn’t give up,” Kelley said. “The bad part is ... we didn’t always play smart.”
Best drive: The Wildcats got almost everything they wanted out of a drive that bridged the third and fourth quarters.
Clovis ended the period on a 10-yard run by Wiggins, then proceeded on a 13-play drive that 5:43 of clock. The Wildcats faced a second and 16, but Kyler Brewer-Hill found senior Richie Chavez up the middle for a 29-yard gain.
However, the drive put nothing on the scoreboard, as Clovis went for it on a fourth-and-5 and senior Blake Wiley was ruled to have trapped a low pass attempt at the 24. The Wildcats argued vehemently that Wiley had come up with the ball, but the ruling stood after a three-official conference.
“If that wasn’t a catch,” Kelley said, “then that fourth-down catch (Jeric Magnant made on Rio Rancho’s second scoring drive) shouldn’t have been one.”
Worst drive: The Wildcats had six three-and-outs, but the most damage was done on a drive where Clovis moved the ball. Clovis’ second second-quarter possession saw an 8-yard Wiggins run and an 8-yard reception by Wiley, but it ended when Jordan Hill was intercepted by Paul Jaramillo.
The junior linebacker found running room, and the Rams’ offense received a 22-yard field to score their second touchdown. To its credit, the Clovis defense made Rio Rancho work for the score, as a 10-yard pass from Tyler Baker to Adam Shapiro came on play No. 7 of the drive.
Best defensive series: Probably a tie, with a pair of Rio Rancho three-and-outs early in each half. Rio Rancho opened with the ball, and Tyler Baker found Jeric Magnant for a 5-yard pass. But Matt Southard batted down the second-down pass and Richie Chavez sacked Baker to push the ball back to the original line of scrimmage.
With Clovis up 17-14, Rio Rancho’s second third-quarter drive started with Armando Lopez and Sierra combining to sack Baker for an 8-yard loss. Two long passes fell incomplete.
Worst defensive series: With the game on the line, Rio Rancho was up to the task. The Rams went to third down only ones, and got a 9-yard Magnant reception on a third-and-2 from their own 48. Only one play went for negative yardage – a 1-yard loss on a Darius Morgan run – but it was followed by Zack Rogers' game-winning 26-yard haul.
Next: Clovis faces Goddard, which dominated Class 3A Portales 46-7 Friday. The Rockets and Wildcats have had two common opponents so far: Goddard beat Rio Rancho 35-28 and lost to Alamogordo 34-32 (Clovis beat the Tigers 27-14).