LAS CRUCES — As the Clovis Wildcat Boosters prepared for the second half, they ran into a problem. Try as they might, the inflatable helmet the players run out of to start every half just wouldn’t inflate.
It was far from the only thing that went wrong for Clovis, as a Mayfield team deflated the Wildcats at every turn in a 38-0 rout in Saturday’s Class 5A semifinal matchup at the Field of Dreams.
Brandon Betancourt rushed 21 times for 149 yards and two touchdowns for the top-seeded Trojans (11-1), who move on to face La Cueva in what will likely be a 7 p.m. championship game on Friday at Wilson Stadium in Albuquerque.
After needing a late touchdown and overtime to survive Eldorado last week, the Trojans needed no wakeup call against Clovis, as Wyatt Tharp’s 1-yard run gave Mayfield a 7-0 lead just after just more than three minutes.
“We told the players if you want to get far, you’ve got to be hungry, and not happy,” Mayfield coach Michael Bradley said. “The offense did a great job, (and) the defense had a shutout.”
The Wildcats didn’t help themselves, with a pair of turnovers that led to 10 Mayfield points that fueled a stretch where the Trojans scored 17 points in 1:59 of the second quarter.
A Kyler-Brewer Hill fumble, with Clovis already trailing 21-0, led to a 49-yard Brock Baca field goal, and Michael Hallock intercepted the first-down sideline pass on the next Wildcats drive and went 35 yards down the sidelines for the score.
“This time of the year,” Clovis assistant Darren Kelley said, “you play good teams, and good teams are going to capitalize on mistakes.”
Chris Carrasco scored on a 1-yard run to end a third-quarter drive extended by a running-into-the-kicker call on a Mayfield punt, putting the final 16:04 in running clock via the 35-point mercy rule.
“Nothing went Clovis’ way,” said Bradley, who looked puzzled at the margin of victory, “and sometimes, that’s how it goes.”
Mayfield outgained Clovis 344-206, and it would have been more lopsided without a 52-yard run by Quran Wiggins on a third-quarter Wildcats drive that stalled due to a red-zone penalty. Wiggins rushed 17 times for 111 yards for the Wildcats.
“We just didn’t get much of a push upfront,” Clovis junior safety Jordan Hill said, “and when we did, they bounced it to the outside and we couldn’t do much there, either.
“We schemed everything right, but we couldn’t execute.”
Clovis reached the semifinals for the third-straight year, but senior defensive end Matt Southard said the expectations are always higher in a Clovis locker room.
“Being a Clovis Wildcat is unlike anything you could ever imagine,” Southard said. “There was a point of the season where we felt 3-0 wasn’t good enough.”
The Wildcats struggled after that, losing a pair of games at La Cueva and Rio Rancho before a six-game winning streak brought them to the Field of Dreams.
Jared Burns, Southard’s teammate on the defensive line, said losing the dream of a state title game didn’t change the value of his experience with Clovis.
“Everybody in this locker room is my brother,” Burns said, “and I wouldn’t trade them for anybody or be traded to any other team.”