By Jesse Wolfersberger: Freedom Newspapers
CLOVIS — Big plays kill.
Clovis scored on four plays of 33 yards or longer and beat Manzano 49-14 in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs Friday at Leon Williams Stadium.
“We were hitting ‘em well, we were moving the ball, we were stopping them on ‘D,’ but as soon as they had those big plays I think mentally we were done,” Manzano coach Aaron Ocampo said. “I felt like we were dominating the game in a lot of facets.”
No play was longer or bigger than Rishard Matthews’ 91-yard kickoff return the play after the Monarchs (6-6) tied the game at 7.
“We had just tied the game and we were playing physical football,” Ocampo said. “I thought that was something we could overcome. We had come back from bad plays in the past.”
After Matthews’ return, the Wildcats (11-1) reeled off 28-straight points, including 21 in the third quarter.
“We did a good job tonight,” Clovis assistant Darren Kelley said. “We came out and the kids did a good job of being prepared. The third quarter is where we really stepped up and played hard.”
Clovis scored twice in the span of 13 seconds in the third quarter to turn the game into a rout.
Brian Mead scored on a 33-yard screen pass from Devin Sweet with 1:14 left in the third. On the ensuing kickoff, the ball hit a Manzano player in the back and the Wildcats recovered. The next play was a 38-yard touchdown strike from Sweet to Matthews.
“That was just going to be a squib kick down the middle,” Kelley said. “We were kicking into the wind, so we wanted to just squib it down the middle like we always had. Just fortunately the guy was standing right there and (kicker Robert North) kicked it right into him.”
Kelley said the decision to try for the end zone on the next play had a lot to do with the fact that another touchdown would make the clock run for the rest of the game.
“Let’s take a shot at it, let’s get it done, let’s get that clock running,” Kelley said.
Matthews said the touchdown was his chance to make up for letting a possible touchdown pass bounce off his pads earlier in the game when he lost sight of the football.
“Devin came into the huddle and said, ‘All right Rishard, time to recuperate,’” Matthews said. “He put it in the right place and all I did was stick my hands out and catch it.”
The Clovis defense held Manzano to 140 yards, 61 coming on the final drive of the game.
“We did a good job of forcing them to punt and giving our offense the ball,” Kelley said. “I thought overall the defense played really well, really sound. We didn’t allow any big plays until right there at the end of the game.”
Mead rushed for 108 yards and two touchdowns. Matthews finished with 83 yards and two scores receiving and 40 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Clovis will play the winner of Saturday’s game between Onate and Alamogordo. If Alamogodo wins, the Tigers come to Clovis. If Onate wins, the Cats will be on the road.