Clovis junior Scott McMath looks for running room during a 46-yard kickoff return in the second half.
Clovis senior cornerback Derrick Phillips holds Rio Rancho’s Zach Hall to a short gain on a pass play in Friday's game in Rio Rancho. Phillips had one of the Wildcats' four interceptions.
RIO RANCHO — In most games, Diondre Hunter’s diving fourth-quarter interception would have merely been a footnote in a Clovis blowout win.
However, for Hunter, it capped his first game back from a pair knee injuries he suffered in the last year.
“The first play I was nervous, but after that it felt like I’d only missed a few weeks,” the senior defensive back said Friday after the Wildcats beat Rio Rancho 38-8.
Hunter, who hurt his right knee in preseason practice as a junior and tore up his left knee in the spring, admitted the injuries tested his faith.
“But my mom, God and my teammates made me realize I could still (play),” he said.
Clovis (3-2) scored in spurts while picking up its first road win of the season.
Manuel Robles scored on runs of 26 and 14 yards in a 23-second span late in the first quarter — the second score was set up by Scott McMath’s fumble recovery — to go up 14-0.
After Rio Rancho (3-2) scored on its opening drive of the second half, Clovis answered on Robert North’s 24-yard field goal and Robles’ 68-yard run on back-to-back drives ito take a 31-8 lead.
Robles finished with season-high 224 yards despite injuring his rotator cuff in the first quarter, and McMath added 69 yards and a score as the Wildcats took advantage of the Rams’ aggressive style.
“It’s a feast or famine kind of defense,” Clovis defensive coordinator Darren Kelley said of the Rams’ 3-5 look. “You can run the same play once and they will stuff it, and the next time (it will) go the distance.
“We did a good job of keeping our heads up and keeping on path with our blocks.”
Despite his layoff, Hunter looked at home in the Wildcats’ five defensive back lineup designed to take away the deep pass from the Rams.
The Wildcats held sophomores Tyler Baker and Cohen Mangin to a combined 11-of-29 passing for 141 yards, and picked off four passes. Senior cornerback Jaden Isler led the way with two interceptions to bring his season total to seven.
The Wildcats also held Rams star Marcus Williams in check (53 total yards of offense on two catches and six runs).
“We worked hard all week (in practice) at not giving up the big play and making them throw it underneath,” Kelley said.
Clovis 38, Rio Rancho 8
At Rio Rancho
Clovis 14 7 10 7 — 38
Rio Rancho 0 0 8 0 — 8
Clo — Manuel Robles 28-yard run (Robert North kick), :43
Clo — Robles 14-yard run (North kick), :18
Clo — Chase Willis 15-yard pass from Jordan Mendoza (North kick), :33
RR — Chris Newsome 35-yard pass from Tyler Baker (T.J. Harris run), 9:58
Clo — North 24-yard FG, 2:23
Clo — Robles 68-yard run (North kick), :16
Clo — Scott McMath 13-yard run (North kick), 5:16
First down 18 7
Rushes-yards 58-343 20-66
Passing yards 44 141
Total yards 383 207
Com-att-int 3-6-0 12-29-4
Punts-avg. 4-50.7 6-41.3
Fumbles-lost 2-1 3-1
Penalties-yards 4-35 7-59
Rushing — Clovis, Robles 23-224, McMath 17-68, Derrick Phillips 9-46, Josh Bryan 2-18, James Howard 1-1, Josh Potocki 1-0, Jordan Mendoza 5-minus 14. Rio Rancho, Marcus Williams 6-33, Thomas Trujillo 3-26, T.J. Harris 6-16, Aaron Holt 1-11, Cohen Mangin 1-6, Tyler Baker 3-minus 26.
Passing — Clovis, Mendoza 3-6-0-44. Rio Rancho, n/a.
Receiving — Clovis, Lane Strebeck 1-15, Chase Willis 1-15, Robles 1-14. Rio Rancho, Holt 3-36, Trujillo 3-32, Williams 2-21, Chris Newsome 1-35, Andrew Lujan 1-14, Zach Hall 1-3, Harris 1-0.
Records — Clovis 3-2, Rio Rancho 3-2.