By Kevin Wilson
CNJ STAFF WRITER
ALBUQUERQUE — With the sun bearing down on Milne Stadium and no cloud cover in sight, the public address announcer delivered the gametime temperature at 86 degrees. It was far from the only number that seemed inaccurate.
On a day where the heat might have been the most relentless opposition of all, the Clovis Wildcats pummeled Highland 68-25 on Saturday afternoon, despite being outgained 493-431 on the day.
Clovis (1-1) managed the blowout with three Peyton Lott interceptions, including one returned 99 yards for a score, and a 94-yard kickoff return by Kamal Cass on top of a day where his combined rushing and receiving totals were 219 yards and five touchdowns.
Eight Wildcats registered a carry or reception on the day, while Lott, Steven Beckham and Kaine Bender each added offensive touchdowns.
“The kids did well, put a lot of points on the board,” Clovis coach Eric Roanhaus said, “and a lot of kids got to play.”
Highland (0-2), which got 480 yards of offense from quarterback Bryan Medina, got its offense going late in the second quarter. But the Hornets had already dug themselves a hole with a low punt that deflected off a Highland player to the 12, an interception by Lott on their own 42. Both led to touchdowns, and Lott did the work himself on his second interception by going 99 yards down the right sideline.
“We were looking for a stop, and we needed leaders to step up,” Lott said. “I tried to do my part.”
Highland finally broke through on a 1-yard sneak by Medina early in the second, but even that was followed up by Cass’ kickoff return.
It was the same story for the Hornets as last week, when poor special teams play gave Rio Rancho numerous short fields in the 59-14 season-opening loss.
“We’ve got to get our kids to realize that we have to take care of all three phases,” Hornets coach Derek Maestas asid. “We made some big improvements on the offensive side … we can’t give up silly points.”
Clovis gave up all 25 points in the second quarter, but scored as time expired on a 6-yard reception by Cass to make it 54-25 at the half. The score loomed large, as the Wildcats received the second-half kickoff and pushed the game to the 35-point running clock after Cass scored on a 9-yard run.
“I was pleased with our defense shutting them down in the second half,” Roanhaus said. “I wasn’t pleased with 25 points in the first half. We were hot and out of shape.”
Cass carried the ball 18 times for 193 yards and four scores.
Clovis got its other touchdowns on runs of 6 and 39 yards by Lott and Beckham, respectively, and a 21-yard reception by Bender.
The strong-armed Medina completed 25 of 42 paasses for 348 yards and three touchdowns, with 19 carries for 132 yards and the Hornets’ other score.