By Greg Price: CNJ sports writer
What happened: Clovis, after leading 20-12 going into halftime Saturday at Dick Bivins Stadium, was outscored 26-6 in the second half and overtime by Palo Duro en route to a 32-26 loss.
Why it happened: The Dons blocked a punt, an extra-point kick and also recovered a muffed punt in Wildcats’ territory in the last two quarters. Each Clovis special team’s meltdown led to Palo Duro points.
Wildcat senior running back Brian Mead rushed for 177 yards on 31 carries, but fumbled three times. Mead’s most crucial fumble came in overtime. The Dons scored on the next possession for the win.
Clovis also had trouble containing Palo Duro senior quarter Skye Gonzales in second half. He finished the game 19-of -24 for 171 yards and rushed for 17 yards and a touchdown. Gonzales scored the game-tying touchdown with 23 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
What it means: The Cats had their two-game winning streak stopped, falling to 2-2 for the season. Palo Duro earned its first victory of the year in three tries.
Stat of the game: Palo Duro converted three special teams miscues into 14 second-half points.
Offensive player of the game: Palo Duro junior running back Maurice Burks rushed for four of the Dons’ five touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime from a yard out.
Miscellaneous: Clovis senior linebacker Cade Wheeler picked off Gonzales late in the first quarter It was his second interception of the season. … Wildcats senior wide receiver Keaton Howell made his third reception and first touchdown catch of the year against the Dons. The scoring play covered 43 yards, one yard shy of Clovis’ longest successful pass play of the year. …. Mead is averaging 166 yards per game.
What’s next: The Cats host Rio Rancho on Friday at Leon Williams Stadium. The Rams are fresh off a 35-13 drubbing of Santa Fe. Rio Rancho (2-2) features junior Marcus Williams and senior Andrew Mastriano at running back. The pair combined for 233 rushing yards against Santa Fe.