The La Cueva Bears had the speed of sophomore sensation Ronne Daniels on their side. The Clovis Wildcats had gravity, lightning and defense on theirs.
A pair of fumbles bounced right for the Wildcats, and Clovis picked up an 8-7 victory when officials called the game after three quarters due to lightning in a battle of ranked Class 5A teams.
Senior defensive back Arthur Calbert admitted the win felt incomplete over the fourth-ranked Bears (2-2), who had first down at the Clovis 42-yard line when the game was called.
“Not really (the same feeling),” Calbert said. “We always want to finish it in the fourth quarter. But a win’s a win.”
Trailing 7-0, No. 6 Clovis (3-1) struck midway through the second quarter. Stefan Mills had troubles fielding a pitch from Josh Potocki on third-and-goal from the 2, but the ball bounced straight up and Mills scooped in into his arms and fell into the end zone.
After losing a pair of red-zone fumbles in last week’s 41-6 win over Highland, Mills was aiming to dodge deja vu.
“At first, I thought, ‘Get on it,’” said Mills, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior back who finished with 157 yards on 16 carries. “I was going to let it bounce one time and whatever happened, happened.”
Mills also scored the conversion as a fumble on the snap turned into a broken-play pass from Kyler Brewer.
“Me and Kyler caught eyes and he threw me the ball (on the right side),” Mills said. “I’m telling myself, ‘I’ve got to get in.’ I’m feeling pressure (from two La Cueva defenders) and I dove for it.”
The Bears got their lone touchdown on a 13-yard run by Gus Bowe early in the second quarter, but were otherwise stymied by a Wildcat defense that allowed 149 yards and eight first downs.
“I think the defense did a great job except for that one series,” Clovis assistant Darren Kelley said.
Clovis Athletic Director Brian Stacy said he wanted to allow for a 30-minute delay Friday, but the officiating crew had the deciding vote.
“I thought that we could delay it as much as we needed it,” said Stacy, but he added that officials told him a second-half stoppage ends a game.
Mills said the officials’ ruling amplified the importance of the two-point conversion, and he understood if the Bears felt slighted.
“If we don’t get that, we’re down 7-6 and that happens,” Mills said. “We’d be (upset).”
Kelley said the best option is not to dwell on the abrupt ending, and get set to continue the homestand next week against Rio Rancho.
“We only worry about things we can control,” Kelley said. “You can’t control lightning, you can’t control rain. What we can control are turnovers, blocking and tacking.”
La Cueva coach Fred Romero declined a post-game interview request.