CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth/Clovis senior Mark Young returns a punt against Highland during Friday’s game at Leon Williams Stadium.
Blast and counter trap.
Clovis’ inability to stop those two staple plays of Highland’s Wing-T offense left Wildcats defensive coordinator Darren Kelley doing a slow burn after the Hornets rolled to a 33-13 win Friday during CHS’ annual homecoming game at Leon Williams Stadium.
“They didn’t do anything we hadn’t seen in practice,” Kelley said. “We just didn’t execute. All they ran all night was two plays.
“You’ve got to make plays and we didn’t make plays. It’s as simple as that.”
Junior quarterback Ian Clark expertly directed a Highland offense that was more efficient than spectacular and Benjamin Marshall scored three touchdowns as the Hornets won at Clovis for the first time in four games under veteran coach Judge Chavez.
“We’ve been coming down here for years and this is the first time we’ve won here,” said Chavez, in his ninth season at Highland. “It’s a big win for us.
“We made a lot of mistakes against a good team last week and lost. I don’t think a lot of people gave us a chance this week.”
The lightning-quick Clark rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown and passed for another score while flashing the ability that makes his coach feel he has one of the state’s top playmakers.
“I keep talking to him about getting on the outside where he can be so dangerous,” Chavez said. “Right now, we’re using him sparingly (on running plays) because it’s a long season.”
The Hornets (1-1) played a near-perfect game with no turnovers and just two penalties. In last week’s lopsided loss to Manzano, the Hornets committed four turnovers and more than 100 yards in penalties.
John Props completed 6 of 12 passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns and also had a team-high 65 yards rushing for the Wildcats, who scored on the last play of the first half on Mark Young’s 5-yard reception. The gamble — the play started with 2.9 seconds on the clock — cut Highland’s lead to 19-6.
After holding the Hornets to a rare three-and-out series, Clovis had a chance to further slice into the lead early in the third quarter, but Jason Seefeld’s 43-yard field goal attempt into the wind bounced off the crossbar.
Highland responded with a backbreaking eight-play, 80-yard drive capped off by Anthony Fairbanks’ diving 9-yard catch in the end zone.
“I thought we drove the ball pretty well all night, we just couldn’t get in the end zone,” Props said.
Part of the problem was Clovis had just four possessions in the second half as Highland controlled the ball and the clock.
Clovis fell behind early as a turnover on the first play from scrimmage and a long pass staked Highland to a 13-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Marshall scored on a 15-yard run less than a minute into the game following a fumble recovery in Clovis territory and a 63-yard pass from Clark to Reggie Johnson set up the Hornets’ second score.
Clovis scored its second touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter as Props perfectly led Ben Teconchuk on a 29-yard scoring strike.