ALBUQUERQUE — There was little doubt at halftime the Clovis Wildcats would cruise to victory over the Highland Hornets. Sixty-one seconds into the second half, James Howard eliminated all doubt.
Howard took a third-down pass straight up the middle for a 51-yard score, pacing the second-half domination in Clovis’ 41-6 thrashing of the Hornets Friday night at Milne Stadium.
The rout sends the Wildcats (2-1) back to Leon Williams Stadium for a Friday matchup against second-ranked La Cueva. The Bears (2-1), playing across Albuquerque in Wilson Stadium, suffered a 28-7 loss Friday to top-ranked Las Cruces.
Playing in front of a small Highland crowd — about 150, counting the Hornets’ band and a trio of Roswell Goddard coaches there to scout Clovis — the Wildcats scored the game’s first 21 points and held the overmatched Hornets to seven first downs and 149 yards.
Stefan Mills led the Wildcats with 117 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns.
Howard added 85 yards on 11 carries in addition to his TD catch.
“The blocking was amazing,” Howard said. “There were all kinds of big holes everywhere.”
Clovis posted 442 yards on offense despite four turnovers — two fumbles and two interceptions.
It wasn’t nearly as easy on offense for a Highland squad already stretched thin from injuries suffered in last week’s 35-6 loss to La Cueva.
The Hornets had to switch quarterbacks after starter Dylan Chavez was injured on the two-point conversion try after Highland’s lone score, an 8-yard pass to Rolando Trammel as the first-half clock expired. Trammel took over quarterback duties in the second half, and the Hornets only reached Clovis territory once the rest of the night.
“I think we did a good job on defense in the second half,” Clovis assistant coach Darren Kelley said. “We did a good job, but it was helpful to get the running clock.”
The Wildcats got the game to the running clock, initiated on leads of 35 or more, as backup quarterback Kyler Brewer hit tight end Richie Chavez for a 51-yard score down the middle.
“That happened that way because their corners were blitzing,” Howard said of his catch, which gave the Wildcats a 27-6 advantage. “We saw that the whole game, and we knew they weren’t going to cover the C-man.”
Highland coach Gary Sanchez said he was impressed with Clovis’ passing game, despite its two early interceptions.
“At times we held up pretty good, and at times they totally dominated us,” Sanchez said. “It’s tough saying that you’re proud of how your kidsplayed after losing like that, but I was.”
Scott McMath had touchdown runs of 4 and 24 yards in the second quarter.