Clovis knocked out of football playoffs

By Rick White

Rio Grande did something to an Eric Roanhaus-coached team that no one has been able to do for more than a quarter of a century — beat the Clovis Wildcats in the first round of the playoffs.
The Ravens did it by controlling the clock and the ball, frustrating the Wildcats with a pair of time-consuming touchdown drives in the second half en route to a stunning 21-18 win Saturday afternoon at wind-blown Leon Williams Stadium.
Clovis came into the game 21-0 in first-round playoff games under Roanhaus, winner of 10 state titles.
Senior quarterback Doug McDaniel led the way for Rio Grande, rushing for 96 yards and a pair of short touchdowns on 25 carries against a Clovis defense that simply couldn’t handle Rio Grande’s wishbone offense.
‘‘I figured whoever snapped the ball most would win,’’ Rio Grande coach Kelly Wilson said. ‘‘They run the ball well and we run the ball well. We got a little skittish in the second quarter, but the kids regrouped in the third quarter and took control.’’
Wilson also said his team was mature enough to take the partisan Clovis crowd out of the game.
‘‘Whatever I say and whatever I focus on is what they focus on,’’ he said. ‘‘We weren’t worried about how many purple shirts were in the stands.’’
The Ravens (8-3) face the winner of Saturday’s game between Las Cruces High and La Cueva in the semifinals.
Despite being dominated most of the way, Clovis (8-3) had a chance at the end to pull out a win.
After cutting the lead to 21-18 on the second of two Phillip Williams’ 1-yard runs, Clovis took over at its 38 with 3:10 left in the game.
But John Props was sacked for an 8-yard loss on first down. Two incomplete pass attempts and a 10-yard run followed and the Ravens were able to run out the clock.
“We just sent an extra guy,” Wilson said. “They had pretty much figured out what we were doing so we sent and extra guy from a different place.”
Clovis, which rebounded from a 1-2 start to win the District 4-5A title and earn its 22 playoff appearance in the last 26 years, was simply outplayed, according to Clovis assistant coach Darren Kelley.
‘‘We didn’t do a good job of blocking and tackling,’’ Kelley said. ‘‘They didn’t do anything we didn’t practice against, they didn’t run anything we didn’t expect. They just beat us.”