The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Cats beat Hobbs to open season

Wildcats have won 16 of last 17 over Eagles.

 

August 25, 2018

HOBBS — Call them Hobbs, Hawbs, the Eagles, or maybe just those guys on the other side of the field.

Whatever you call the Hobbs football team, it’s a program Clovis High loves to beat — any time, but especially Week 1.

It was far from perfect Friday night at Hobbs High School — with penalties galore, and some missed offensive opportunities — but the Wildcats did what they came to do, they beat Hobbs, 32-21.

Another notch for Clovis in the rivalry, and more importantly, a 1-0 record for the Wildcats.

“It’s always good to beat them. We’re 41-11 against those guys since 1967,” Cal Fullerton said after officially beginning his second season as Clovis head coach.

“It’s amazing,” said Wildcats senior defensive back Montez Wright, emotional after his last game against Hobbs — an outstanding game by him that included a pick-six, punts dropped inside the Eagles’ 10 all night, a fake-punt run by him that covered 33 yards and a one-yard touchdown run.

It began well quickly for the Wildcats, who needed just two plays from scrimmage to score. Clovis began its first drive of the season at its own 36, and after a five-yard pass to first-time starting quarterback Chance Harris to Caden Zarikta made it second-and-five, senior running back DeMarco Fitch took a leftside handoff and broke loose for a 59-yard touchdown run.

Jose Mendoza provided the extra point, and with just 49 seconds elapsed in their season, the Wildcats led 7-0.

Clovis’ defense, which played a snarling, get-after-it style most of the way, had probably its worst lapse of the night on the ensuing Hobbs possession, during which the Eagles marched 88 yards on 11 plays for the game-tying score. Isaiah Vaughn did the honors, rushing six yards for the touchdown. Dylan Condarco’s extra point tied it at 7 with 8:42 still to play in the first quarter.

Minutes later, linebacker Ian Yruegas put Clovis in business when he intercepted a Micheal Greenough pass near the Eagles’ 30 and returned it all the way to the Hobbs 9. Only a tackle in which Hobbs’ Zack Turner lost his helmet saved Yruegas from going all the way.

Ultimately, though, it didn’t matter. Though Harris lost seven yards when chased out of bounds on first down, he picked up 15 on the next play, going helmet-to-helmet with Hobbs safety Evan Gray at the 1. A play later, Wright ran smack into Hobbs’ goal-line defense, but every other Wildcat on the field helped push him over for the score.

Mendoza’s extra point gave Clovis a 14-7 lead with 6:12 still to go in the opening quarter.

The Wildcats led the rest of the way.

A fourth-and-three defensive stop by Darian Morgan set up the Wildcats' next scoring possession, ending with a 10-yard Harris touchdown pass to Zarikta. The extra point attempt failed, but Clovis led 20-7 early in the second.

Clovis missed other first-half scoring chances, failing to convert a fourth-and-short play and turning the ball over, but stayed in control. Wright’s pick-six, in fact, made it 26-7 early in the third. “Just had the opportunity,” Wright said, “and took it.”

Though Hobbs drew within 26-14 on a seven-yard Jaime Rivera touchdown catch, Clovis scored after a D’Angelo Green fumble recovery at Hobbs’ 35 soon led to a 35-yard touchdown pass from Harris to Malik Phillips, including about 30 yards after-the-catch, putting the ‘Cats ahead 32-14.

Their special teams allowed Hobbs to return the ensuing kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown, but that was it for the night.

Clovis was soon 1-0, but knew there was much work to be done.

“Our big question mark was our offensive and defensive lines,” Fullerton said, “and I didn’t think our offensive line was very good tonight.”

For Hobbs, there were chances to climb back into it, but the Eagles couldn’t capitalize.

“Too many turnovers,” Hobbs coach Charles Gleghorn said. “That’s the toughest part of it. You can’t have three turnovers and win a game. You sure can’t have five.”

 

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