By Eric Butler: CNJ Correspondent
ALBUQUERQUE — While District 4-5A football race is decidedly up for grabs, Clovis made sure it was still at the top and Sandia at the bottom by taking a 30-0 road victory.
The Wildcats scored on each of their first three offensive possessions for a 16-0 cushion at halftime. Two touchdowns in the final six minutes of the game put the finishing touches on the shutout win for Clovis.
Clovis (6-3, 3-0 district) leads Hobbs and Cibola by a game in the loss column with one game left in the district season.
“We needed to win this game for sure just to be on top of everything,” Clovis nose guard Juan Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez was a major component in a Wildcats’ defense that proved wildly successful in shutting down Sandia star running back Derris Jackson — who finished with only 32 yards on 14 carries.
Sandia (2-6, 0-2), however, got rushing productivity from Brandon Pendell early.
The Matadors’ back ripped off runs of 15 and 18 yards in the game’s first two plays from scrimmage. But Sandia’s drive ended at midfield and Clovis’ offense — after a Matadors’ punt — quickly marched 80 yards in seven plays.
Phillip Williams, who finished with 147 yards rushing, scored first for the Wildcats on an 18-yard run up the middle behind some solid blocking from the Clovis offensive line.
“I’m not really a turf runner — I’ve got bad ankles,” said Williams, who adapted just fine. “They did a couple of different things that we didn’t practice against, a couple of stunts they were running that were hard to pick up on. Other than that, we had a pretty successful offensive game.”
A bad bounce on a short punt from the Matadors gave Clovis the ball at the Sandia 33 the next time the Wildcats’ offense took the field.
John Props hit Jonathan Sweet with a 23-yard pass,
Williams ran another 5 yards and another Props-to-Sweet connection from 5 yards out gave Clovis a 13-0 lead.
Despite picking up more first downs that the Wildcats in the first half, Sandia didn’t come close to scoring.
A Travis Reid 36-yard field goal gave Clovis a 16-0 lead with 8:31 left in the first half. Just before intermission, the Matadors moved to the Wildcats’ 25-yard line but inexplicably let the clock run out on last 8-yard running play — letting their final available timeout of the half go unused.
In the second half, Clovis’ defense would not let Sandia get that close again.
The Matadors’ best drive in the last two periods win which they finished with only 19 yards, was in the waning moments of the game.
“We had to be more physical than they were. That’s we talked about all week and I think our kids did a good job of hitting someone,” Clovis defensive coordinator Darren Kelley said. “We gave them a few yards in the middle of the field. In the first half, our biggest problem was not tackling.”
In the second half, Clovis had one apparent touchdown — a pass from Props to Nick Welsh — called back for a holding penalty.
But the Wildcats did get another score when Props hit Damien Robinson with a 7-yard strike with 6:04 left in the contest.
Sophomore running back Brian Mead scored the Wildcats’ final touchdown from 5 yards out with 56 seconds remaining.
Clovis 13 3 0 14 — 30
Sandia 0 0 0 0 — 0
Clo — Phillip Williams 18 run (kick failed)
Clo — Jonathan Sweet 5 pass from Props (Travis Reid kick)
Clo — Reid 36 FG
Clo — Damian Robinson 7 pass from Props (Reid kick)
Clo — Mead 5-yard run (Reid kick)
1st Downs: C 14; S 10. Rushing: C 37-248 (Phillip Williams 20-147, Terrance Walker 1-38, Tanner Fickling 8-36, John Props 5-15, Brian Mead 2-12); S 38-195 (Brandon Pendell 11-77, Derris Jackson 14-32, Chris Arnold 3-45).
Passing: C 4-8-0–71 (Props 3-7-0 35); S 3-9-1–22 (Matthias Petzold 2-5-0–5).
Punts-Avg.: C 1-39.0; S 5-31.0. Penalties-Yds.: C 2-15; S 10-70. Fumbles-Lost: C 0-0; S 2-0.