A figurative term for loyal Clovis Wildcats is that they bleed purple.
Senior quarterback Kyler Brewer-Hill literally bled red, as evidenced by the gash on his arm requiring six stitches following the Wildcats’ 14-7 win against Cibola.
While he was being stitched up in the training room, Brewer-Hill said he was happy he could chip in on defense on a night where the offense couldn’t get much of a rhythm.
“I really love playing defense,” said Brewer-Hill. “I haven’t played defense since ninth grade, and I definitely enjoyed it.”
For Brewer-Hill, who caused a Hayden Schaap fumble to slow down a Cibola drive inside the Clovis 10, there’s a very simple reason to love defense — delivering a hit is more fun than taking one.
Pound sweet pound: Down 14-7, the visiting Cougars had three chances in the red zone and another inside the Clovis 30, and came up empty. Senior defensive end Matt Southard said it was largely because the game was at Leon Williams Stadium, and not Milne Stadium in Albuquerque.
“The crowd made the difference,” Southard said. “They’re playing with the dog pound at their back, and it makes a big difference.”
Big push: Edwin Lee and Pablo De La Rosa each ended Cougar drives with interceptions – Lee's a goal-line pick in the closing seconds of the first half, and De La Rosa's a right-place-right-time play on Clovis' 27. He had no competition for the ball, as Schaap underthrew following junior Fred Kelley's disruption.
“I just saw him going backward and I thought I could get him,” said the 5-11, 235-pound Kelley, who was able to dump his man into Schaap at the last minute. “I see it in the NFL all the time, so I knew something was going to happen.”
Best drive: No contest, as the Cats scored their only offensive touchdown on the first drive. The seven-play, 64-yard effort had its share of big plays, like Quran Wiggins’ 22-yard run and chain-movers like Brewer-Hill’s 9-yard pass to Blake Wiley. Wiggins finished it off by brushing off a pair of Cougars tackles for a 9-yard scoring run.
An honorable mention drive came in the third quarter, as junior Jordan Hill came in at quarterback and pulled off a pair of 11-yard runs on delayed draw plays. Wiggins broke five Cougars tackles for a 14-yard gain to move the ball to the Cibola 7, but he lost a fumble at the goal line on the ensuing first-down play.
Worst drive: Lots of candidates here, as the Wildcats finished with just nine first downs. After a fourth-down stand on their own 11, Clovis had a 14-7 lead and 6:28 to protect it. The Wildcats could only take a minute and change off the clock, managing six yards on three runs — two for negative yardage.
Best defensive series: Cibola went into its second offensive drive down 7-0, and the Wildcats didn’t give them much breathing room. Quarterback Hayden Schaap was stuffed twice on open-field tackles on the keeper play, including a flattening by lineman Jared Burns 3 yards short of the first-down mark. Special teams played a role, as Emery Sierra got both hands on the punt and Southard did the scoop-and-score for 27 yards.
Worst defensive series: Southard said the Cougars consistently beat the Wildcats with quick cuts against an inexperienced inside zone defense.
“With (an injury sidelining junior Kevin) Armstrong, we had to play some kids both ways and have them at that second linebacker spot, and that hurt,” Clovis assistant coach Darren Kelley said. “And there were mental errors on our part.”
Cibola’s scoring drive was a textbook example, as Mark Tapia burned the Wildcats with a counter to the ride sideline for 27 yards on the first play. Tapia finished off the five-play, 55-yard effort by beating a pair of Wildcats defenders in a race to the left corner of the end zone from 10 yards out.
Next: The Wildcats stay home to face Highland. Clovis defeated Highland on the road 41-6 last season.