Rio Rancho hands Cats third-straight loss

Give the Clovis Wildcats an open field and they're devastating, as Kamal Cass showed one more time Friday night.

But Rio Rancho won the battles in the trenches and time of possession, and it was more than enough to offset three first-half turnovers and secure a 42-33 victory at Leon Williams Stadium.

The Rams, who improved to 4-1 on the season, rode a 440-yard offensive night to claim their third win in four seasons against the Wildcats and the first win in school history in Clovis.

CMI photo: Tony Bullocks

Clovis junior wide receiver Traivon Sopila is bought down after a catch by a gang of Rio Rancho defender in the first half of Friday night game at Leon Wiliams Stadium.

"It was adversity, they fought through adversity," Rio Rancho coach David Howes said. "To come out of here and get a win was really good."

Sophomore quarterback Easton Bruere completed 19-of-26 passes for 269 yards and four touchdowns, and senior Ulses Astorga rushed 17 times for 132 yards while posting three scores — runs of 1 and 70 yards, and a scoring toss of 5 yards from Bruere.

Bruere got things started early with a 5-yard toss to Tristen Foley to take advantage of an early Clovis fumble, but was intercepted by Traivon Sopila and Shaprei Bryant.

"We gave them a gift with the fumble early," Clovis coach Eric Roanhaus said. "We intercepted a couple of balls, got back in the game. Rio Rancho, as explosive as they are, you've got to take the ball away from them like we did in the first half."

That didn't happen in the second half, however, as the Rams stopped the turnovers and only had one ball truly bounce against them — and even that looked promising.

Rio Rancho's only punt of the game got a friendly bounce and rolled all the way to the 1. But then Cass picked the ball up, made a few moves and soon found daylight on the 99-yard touchdown return — his fourth punt return for a score, and Clovis' fifth special teams touchdown of the season.

"All week long, (we said to) keep the ball away from 20," Howes said, while noting the punt was kicked nowhere near Cass. "When that punt was rolling, I liked it a lot. Anybody else would have let the ball go into the end zone."

CMI photo: Tony Bullocks

Clovis senior running back Marcos Trujillo is tackle by Rio Rancho's Daltin Brady after making a 9-yard catch in the first quarter Friday night at Leon Williams Stadium.

Clovis (2-3) spread the ball around for a 354-yard night on offense, with Cass rushing for 130 yards and Marcos Trujillo going for 106. Cass also scored on touchdown runs of 34 and 7 yards, with Trujillo adding a 33-yard score. Sopila had 50 yards on four carries before leaving in the second half with a hamstring injury.

"I thought Trujillo did a good job running, and of course Cass did a good job running the ball," Roanhaus said. "It hurt us not having Traivon in the second half."

Marshall Winn added Clovis' other score, a 5-yard catch from Kordell Tindle on a fourth-and-goal play. Foley scored twice, including a 5-yard pass from Bruere to open the second-half scoring, and Austin Patterson closed out the scoring on an 11-yard toss.

Clovis goes back on the road Friday against Goddard, and will end the regular season with three of its final four at home.

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