Clovis senior Bryce Hill hauls in a pass for an 18-yard gain in the thid quarter of Friday’s game in Artesia. Hill finished with three catches for 60 yards as Clovis rallied to beat Artesia 35-31.
Senior Isaac Edwards (19) leads the Clovis Wildcats onto the field Friday at the Bulldog Bowl in Artesia.
ESPN might want to think about adding the Clovis Wildcats’ improbable 35-31 comeback win over Artesia to its cache of Instant Classics.
Here’s the evidence:
• Artesia quarterback Landry Jones does a Peyton Manning imitation in the first half, completing 20-of-22 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown. The University of Oklahoma-bound recruit was true on his first 13 passes, leading the Bulldogs to a 24-7 lead in front of a packed house at the Bulldog Bowl and a national television audience on ESPNU.
• Clovis scored 28 points in the final 15-plus minutes, erasing a 17-point deficit with its punishing ground game while turning Jones into an afterthought (4-of-9 for 39 yards and two interceptions) in the second half.
• Needing the ball one more time to complete its second comeback in two weeks, the Wildcats recover a textbook onside kick and score five plays later.
• Clovis senior running back Manuel Robles demonstrates what it would be like to try and tackle a bull in Pampalona as he rumbles for almost 100 yards and three touchdowns in the second half.
Late night: The game was rebroadcast about 1 a.m. on Artesia’s capable network. The announcers did their homework. Here are comments and stories they shared:
• Clovis senior Diondre Hunter earned the nickname Forrest (Gump) because he wears braces on both knees following surgeries. Teammates joked, “run Forrest run,” while watching his 60-yard interception return last week on film.
• Clovis senior defensive tackle Michael Howard is all cowboy off the field and kicker Robert North played rugby oversees before moving to Clovis, where his father works at the cheese plant.
• Clovis junior Stefan Mills’ hit on an Artesia receiver catching a pass over the middle was the hardest they’d seen in the 14 games they did this season.
• Artesia running back/receiver Barrett Robinson wears an insulin pump 24 hours a day except when he’s on the football field.
• Jones was the best quarterback they’ve seen this season.
• Clovis junior defensive back Cerron Bailey moved to Clovis from Alaska when his father was transferred to Cannon Air Force Base. The family will soon move to South Carolina.
Easy choice: Clovis defensive coordinator Darren Kelley said the Wildcats’ decision to try an onside kick with a little more than two minutes to go and trailing 31-29 was a no-brainer.
“We needed to take a chance,” Kelley said. “There was a good chance we weren’t going to get the ball back again.” Kelley said Thursday is onside kick day in practice.
North’s kick took a super-ball-like hop over Artesia’s front line and junior Josh Bryan pounced on the rebound.
“Robert did a great job of getting the ball to bounce up like that on the second hop,” said Kelley, who also credited the hustle of Layne Strebeck, Lane Ward and Bailey with knocking down Artesia’s front line to clear the path for Bryant.
Best offensive series: Clovis drove 96 yards in 10 plays to pull within 24-21 with less than eight minutes to play. Chase Willis’ 26-yard catch and run on third down kept the drive alive. The Wildcats covered the final 48 yards on alternating carries by Scott McMath (114 yards, two TDs) and Robles.
Worst offensive series: Desperately needing a score, the Wildcats went three-and-out on their first possession of the second half.
Best defensive series: Clovis forced a three-and-out, and Artesia’s only punt, on the first possession of the second half. Another Bulldog score would have been disastrous.
Worst defensive series: Pick one in the first half when Artesia rolled up 333 yards. The Wildcats appeared the stop the Bulldogs on their second drive, but Jones completed a 25-yard rope to Derek Montoya over the middle on fourth-and-17. Jones scored three plays later from 5 yards out.
Go figure: Jones threw at least three TD passes in his first six games. Clovis limited him to one.
Quotable: “He lived up to the hype. I didn’t realize how quickly the ball got out of his hands.” — Kelley on Jones.
Up next: Clovis has the week off before starting district play Nov. 2 at Hobbs.