Richie Chavez and the Clovis Wildcats had been here before.
Big lead on Eldorado. A furious Eagles comeback.
But Chavez made sure history would not repeat itself, pulling in a key third-down reception on a drive that iced Clovis’ 26-14 win Friday night at Leon Williams Stadium.
Chavez remembered how Eldorado (2-4) rallied from a late 14-0 deficit and handed Clovis its first defeat of 2008. This time, a 20-0 fourth-quarter quickly became 20-14, and Clovis had seven minutes of clock to work with.
“It felt like last year, but we weren’t going to let that happen,” the 6-foot, 250-pound senior said. “I told the offense we needed to score, and that’s what we did.”
Kyler Brewer-Hill found Chavez up the middle. Chavez held off a defensive gamble from Eldorado linebacker Dax Crumble and got past the first-down marker.
“That was a great catch,” Clovis assistant Darren Kelley said. “Those are the kind of plays you’ve got to make if you want to go on and play in December.”
Clovis (5-2) converted one more third down on the 11-play drive which chewed up just over six minutes, and a 1-yard sneak by Brewer-Hill eight plays later sealed matters with 1:09 to play.
Other than that long Clovis drive, and an 80-yard Eldorado drive bridging the third and fourth quarters, it was a defensive battle with the teams combining for 428 yards of offense and three turnovers.
The turnovers were costly for both squads. A lost fumble by Clovis’ Quran Wiggins led to a 1-yard sneak by Eldorado quarterback Arvin Day, one of two rushing scores for Day.
Meanwhile, two Day interceptions led to 10 Wildcats points — a 22-yard interception return by Emery Sierra to put Clovis on the board in the first half and the first of two Andrew North field goals in the second half.
“This is playoff weather, and you’ve got to adjust to the wind,” Eagles coach Charlie Dotson said. “Sierra did a good job of stepping into that pass.
“We probably got outcoached in situations because we didn’t react to the wind like we should have.”
Special teams errors also played a role in Eldorado’s fourth-straight defeat. North pinned the Eagles on their own 2 with a 51-yard punt late in the second, and a shanked punt gave the Wildcats a 7-yard field with :41 before half-time.
“Sometimes it just happens with a punter, they have a bad kick,” Kelley said. “When you’re given that break, you’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Brewer-Hill, who completed five passes for 93 yards, found Jonathan Langan for a one-play drive and a 14-0 half-time lead.
Also, Clovis’ game-sealing drive started on the Cats’ 42 after a 34-yard kickoff return by junior Jordan Hill.
Clovis hits the road Friday against Artesia, while Eldorado faces Highland in a 7 p.m. Thursday game at Wilson Stadium.