Cats close in on automatic bid

CARLSBAD — For the fourth time in as many road games for the Clovis Wildcats, Shaprei Bryant's name got botched by the public address announcer as, "Sharpie."

CMI staff photo: Kevin Wilson

Carlsbad receiver Kain Fierro is met by Clovis defenders, from left, Jordan Holguin, Kaine Bender and Shaorei Bryant finished with two intercecptions as Clovis held on for 34-29 win.

The junior back never heard the mistake Friday night at Carlsbad. He was too busy making his mark on the field, finding his way to make key play after key play to help the Wildcats hold off host Carlsbad 34-29 at Ralph Bowyer Stadium.

Bryant had a pair of interceptions and a blocked field goal attempt to go with three carries for 109 yards, including a 90-yard carry that helped free up featured back Kamal Cass for another monster night.

Clovis coach Eric Roanhaus credited Bryant with a great game, but said he had a lot of company in that department on a night where Clovis gave up 493 yards of offense but made stops when they needed them.

"When you have a game like that, a lot of kids get game balls," Roanhaus said. "We don't have enough game balls to go around."

Cass, held to 55 yards rushing in the first half, broke out in the second half to finish with 222 yards on 32 carries and touchdowns of 26, 3, 59 and 47 yards. His biggest run came on a fake handoff to Traivon Sopila, who got the entire Caveman defense to bite on what looked like a repeat of a 60-yard play the Wildcats ran two weeks prior against Sandia. Instead, Cass kept the ball and went untouched down the right sideline.

Cass' biggest play, Bryant said, might have been the one where he didn't touch the ball.

"Kamal made a great call to the coaches," Bryant said of his 90-yard run that knotted the game at 21. "He said, 'Switch me,' because they wouldn't key on me the same as they keyed on him."

The Wildcats held on the next drive, and went up for good on Cass' 3-yard scoring run. Clovis never trailed again, but had plenty of close calls.

With 3:05 left, Carlsbad pushed the score to 28-27 on Josh Miller's 16-yard touchdown catch. The Cavemen went for the two-point conversion, but quarterback Rodney Holcomb flipped a pass out of Kain Fierro's reach in the back of the end zone.

"We had a guy open," said Carlsbad coach Ron Arrington, who had no regrets about the call. "It wasn't our first read, and he wasn't open at first, but he got open later in the play. We had him; we didn't throw and catch the ball."

Holcomb, on balance, made several plays with 24-of-38 passing for 253 yards, but Clovis junior Peyton Lott picked off a long pass to squelch the Cavemen's last serious chance with 1:33 left. The Wildcats gave Carlsbad one final chance with .9 left after failing to run the entire clock out, but defended a desperation hook-and-ladder play as time expired.

Dillion Caddell rushed 20 times for 150 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown for the Cavemen (5-5, 1-1), who must wait out their bye week and see if the state seeding committee puts them in the 12-team Class 5A field.

The Wildcats, meanwhile, need a win against 2-7 Hobbs next Friday at Leon Williams Stadium to secure the District 4-5A championship and a home-game in the first round of the playoffs. Roanhaus figures the Wildcats would get a No. 6 or No. 7 seed in that situation.

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