By Kevin Wilson
ARTESIA — Big plays on the ground have been the staple of Clovis football this season.
Friday night, a handful of big plays through the air did just enough to keep the Artesia defense honest, and the visiting Wildcats cruised to a 48-17 victory at the Bulldog Bowl for their second-straight win.
Kamal Cass had his standard gaudy game with 25 carries for 191 yards and a touchdown before being pulled with an ankle injury early in the third quarter. But the big plays came from senior teammate Traivon Sopila, who caught three passes for 90 yards and three scores.
Sopila, who also added a 7-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter to put Clovis up 41-10, said it wasn’t a key going into the game that he was going to be the focus of the offense.
“It’s just what happened,” said Sopila, who scored his first touchdown on a 40-yard bomb right after the Wildcats recovered an Artesia fumble. “I didn’t know they were going to single-cover me at all. It turned out they did single-cover me, Dakotah (Yandell) got me the ball and we made plays as a team. The defense stepped up and did a great job, too.”
Sopila had touchdown receptions in the second quarter of 6 and 44 yards, with the latter coming in the final seconds.
“Right near the half, they let us get deep on them,” Clovis coach Eric Roanhaus said. “That was a big play. Then we wanted to come out and score on the first possession of the second half, and that’s what we did.”
The Wildcats (3-4) didn’t attempt a pass in the second half, most of which was spent under the running clock. Sopila’s touchdowns at the end of the second quarter and start of the third put the game on ice, long after Artesia coach Cooper Henderson said a few three-and-outs sealed the Bulldogs’ fate.
“(Turnovers are) part of it,” Henderson said, “but we’re just not playing well enough to beat a good team, and Clovis is a good team.”
Artesia (2-5) got a touchdown pass each from starter Ben Kelley and backup Chaz Matthews.
Kelley did much of the work to put Artesia in position with a 43-yard reception on a trick play as receiver Deion Wesson hit him in stride. Kelley finished the drive with a 7-yard pass to Spencer Liles.
Matthews, who took most of the second-half snaps, narrowed the final deficit with a 40-yard strike to Andy Azua.
Yandell threw for four touchdowns and ran for a 10-yard score in the first half, and Max Rodriguez had an 11-yard scoring reception for Clovis.