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

Cats pull away in second half, top Aztec 49-20


September 1, 2018

AZTEC — At times last season, Clovis’ football team had trouble putting games away.

Not a problem so far this year, especially in Friday night’s road game against Aztec. The Wildcats came away with a 49-20 victory after leading only 28-20 at the start of the fourth quarter.

The running of Andrew Jaramillo and DeMarco Fitch made the difference, with Jaramillo bulling for several big first downs and a short touchdown in the fourth quarter and Fitch adding two in that period, including the finisher —a 27-yard scoring run with under two minutes to play.

That fourth-quarter burst had Clovis coasting to a lopsided result and more importantly, a 2-0 record, even though head coach Cal Fullerton admitted it was a sloppy Week 2.

“You’d rather play bad and win than play bad and lose,” Fullerton said. “It’s a must that we’re 2-0.”

The Wildcats’ halftime lead was even slimmer than the one they later carried into the fourth quarter. At the break, Clovis held a 14-12 edge on the strength of an eight-yard Chance Harris touchdown pass to Malik Phillips and a 70-yard Montez Wright punt return for a score, plus two extra points from Xavier De La Rosa.

In the second half, Fullerton switched quarterbacks from the sophomore Harris to senior Caden Zarikta. The move to Zarikta was “to get him some reps,” according to Fullerton.

And Zarikta quickly made good on his opportunity, connecting with Malik Phillips on a 65-yard touchdown pass play that included some nifty running by Phillips.

That lightning strike and De La Rosa’s third extra point made it a 21-12 game.

The teams exchanged touchdowns during the remainder of the third quarter allowing the Wildcats to carry that 28-20 lead into the fourth quarter.

After that, Clovis’ ground game and defense took over. Fitch picked up a big first down on an 18-yard run, which was followed by Jaramillo bulling his way to the Aztec 6. Fitch did the rest, carrying first on the right side of the field, then cutting back over the middle and scoring. De Le Rosa’s point-after made it 35-20.

A 3-yard Jaramillo score with De La Rosa’s extra point gave Clovis a 42-20 advantage.

Aztec’s next possession was ended by a C.J. Gutierrez interception.

Late in the game, after Jaramillo picked up a first down at Aztec’s 27, Fitch carried next and broke loose for Clovis’ last touchdown, escaping three tackles in the process.


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