ALBUQUERQUE — During fiesta weekend, balloons weren’t the only things flying in Albuquerque. Milne Stadium spectators saw plenty of yellow flags fly Friday night.
Clovis’ 21-14 victory was not without questionable calls. It started with a pass to Moses Bibbs most spectators thought was incomplete. However, it was ruled a catch and a fumble, which bounced right to Josh Bryan for a 41-yard recovery and score.
That was about the only call that helped Clovis. Among the calls:
• With five minutes left in the second quarter, Clovis thought it had a 66-yard touchdown run from Stefan Mills. It was called back on a hold which, according to the ensuing spot, took place two yards behind the line of scrimmage.
• Cibola got five downs on a second-half drive. After a 5-yard run on first down by Jonathon Redman, the Cougars were called for a late hit. The resulting play should have been second and 20, but Cibola started again at first-and-20.
Cibola was penalized twice for 20 yards, while Clovis was flagged seven times for 55.
“That’s part of playing on the road,” Clovis assistant Darren Kelley said. “One of the things we talk about is not worrying about things we can’t control, and you can’t control the officials.”
How to cover: There are plenty of things in play when Andrew North lines up to punt for Clovis. Kelley normally sends an assistant coach down the sidelines. The staff asks North get the ball there, and give it enough hang time so the Wildcats can get to the return man.
On North’s 49-yard punt that landed at the Cibola 9, Kelley credited Blake Wiley as the first of three Wildcats to get to return man Jordan Ratliffe.
“It's a lot of adrenaline” covering a punt, Wiley said. “I know I'm going to hit somebody; I love it.”
Wiley and a pair of Wildcats defenders limited return man Jordan Ratliffe to three yards, and the Cougars weren’t up to the task of an 88-yard game-tying drive.
It’s all in the wrist(band): With 68 yards passing in Clovis’ 297 offensive yards Friday, it’s fair to assume at least 20 percent of the Wildcats’ offense rests on the right arm of senior quarterback Josh Potocki. Part of it relies on his left arm as well.
That’s where Potocki wears an armband with a Velcro enclosure. The top of the enclosure contains a 3-by-5 notecard, and opening the enclosure reveals two more pages of notes.
“The top part of my armband is our running plays,” Potocki said of the 22-play list on the first flap.
The middle page is for passing plays, and, “the bottom one, those are pass and run. All of it comes out of shotgun.”
If the Wildcats are in a hurry, coaches will yell out the corresponding play number. Usually, Potocki said, there's more time to game plan, and he probably only uses the wristband for 15 to 20 plays a night.
Best drive: When Clovis wins the coin toss, it usually defers to receive the ball in the second half so it can establish the flow. Cibola won the toss, but elected to receive and gave Clovis the opportunity to start the third quarter. The Wildcats didn’t disappoint, putting together 12 running plays for 65 yards and a 1-yard score by Stefan Mills.
Worst drive: Clovis’ lone turnover, an interception by Isaiah Wright on a tipped ball, quickly ended a three-play drive. The six yards Mills gained on first and second down were pretty much negated by an illegal procedure call on first down.
Best defensive series: With 6:44 left, the Cougars had 67 yards to drive to tie the game. They ended up losing one yard as Anthony Romo stuffed Joseph Martinez on first down, and a Cibola false start on third down led to a long third down pass the Wildcats knocked down.
Worst defensive series: Cibola’s second scoring drive. The Cougars gained 26 yards on their first two rushes, and only went to third down twice. Both were short-yardage situations, and were converted with a 10-yard run by Wright and a 1-yard scoring run by Wright.
Next: The Wildcats will defend a five-game winning streak against Artesia. The Wildcats defeated Artesia with a pair of late scores in last year's game broadcast live nationally on ESPNU. Wiley felt the win against Cibola helps with momentum.
“It’s going to help us a lot to beat a 5A team (first),” Wiley said. “It’s our homecoming, so we were already going to be pretty pumped up.”