Clovis junior linebacker Lane Ward (42) jars the ball loose from Carlsbad wide receiver Daniel Martinez after a short gain. The Wildcats recovered the fumble, one of three Carlsbad turnovers in the game.
Live by the blitz, die by the blitz.
Exposing a blitzing defense focused on stopping the run, Jordan Mendoza threw three touchdown passes to Manuel Robles as the Clovis Wildcats wrapped up their fifth straight District 4-5A title Friday by beating Carlsbad 34-0 at Leon Williams Stadium.
Clovis (7-3) clinched a state playoff berth with its 14th-straight district win. The top two teams in each of the state’s five districts and two at-large teams make the playoffs.
Clovis assistant coach Darren Kelley figures the Wildcats are a lock to end up one with one of the top four seeds, who earn a first-round bye.
“The good thing is we’ll get a week off unless Las Cruces wants to sue again,” Kelley said, referring to a lawsuit that delayed last year’s state playoffs by a week.
The New Mexico Activities Association is scheduled to announce the playoff pairings at 7 p.m. today.
Mendoza finished 7-of-12 passing for 161 yards and Robles added 110 yards on the ground to go over the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season.
“We saw they blitzed a lot and if we caught them in the right situation we could beat them,” said Mendoza, who noted the Cavemen were trying to cover Robles with a linebacker. “Our line did a good job of protecting and Manuel just outran the linebacker.”
With Clovis leading 20-0, Mendoza and Robles hooked up for scoring passes of 13 and 38 yards in the third quarter to put the game out of reach for the Wildcats.
Derrick Phillips added 63 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns for the Wildcats, who finished with 375 yards.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats held Carlsbad (3-7) to 130 yards while recording five sacks. It was the Wildcats’ second shutout this season.
“The game plan was to go after (the quarterback) and hit him all night,” Clovis senior defensive tackle Michael Howard said. “If we can put pressure on him, that gives our secondary a chance.”
Carlsbad’s deepest penetration was the Clovis 15-yard line late in the third quarter, but the Cavemen threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-three.
Carlsbad quarterbacks Nathan Clark and Jacob Galindo combined to complete 12 of 24 passes for 55 yards, mostly short passes underneath the Wildcats’ zone defense.
Linebackers Parker Wood and Lane Ward caused turnovers by jarring the ball loose from Carlsbad receivers on short routes over the middle.
“We wanted to make them throw the ball underneath and then break on the ball,” Kelley said. “We did a good job of coming up and making the tackle."
The Wildcats forced three turnovers, giving them 29 on the season.
Caleb Bellah gained 51 yards on 14 carries for the Cavemen, who finished last in 4-5A.