By Kevin Wilson
As usual, a historic performance from Kamal Cass wasn’t quite enough for the Clovis Wildcats.
But this time, Clovis was up to task, as other offensive threats and timely defensive stops added to the mix to give the Wildcats a 31-28 victory Friday night over Goddard.
Cass ran for 320 yards on 40 carries and scored three times, blowing past Brian Mead for first on the career Clovis rushing list. But snapping a three-game skid — both in the regular season and in the annual series with the Rockets — was also aided by a 37-yard touchdown reception by Christian Caldwell and a pair of defensive holds in the final seven minutes to complete a rally from a 20-10 halftime deficit.
“We ended the first half on a defensive blunder letting them score,” Clovis coach Eric Roanhaus said, referring to a 52-yard touchdown reception by Goddard’s Adam Gomez with three seconds left in the second quarter. “Then we ended the game with two great defensive stops. Our defense has been maligned this year, but we got more physical in the second half. That is something to build on.”
Caldwell, a 6-foot, 170-pound junior, said the strike from Dakotah Yandell was the same play that Clovis (2-4) ran against Highland, except that in that game he missed a low throw.
“Once I saw the linebacker came up and I cleared him, I knew he was going to throw it to me,” Caldwell said. “The throw was a little low this time too, but I wasn’t going to let this one drop. After I caught it, the only thing on my mind was getting into the end zone.”
Caldwell’s touchdown was the second of four lead changes in the game, which opened with touchdowns for each squad just 2:08 into the contest. Cass finished a five-play drive with a 22-yard burst with four broken tackles, while Cody French got his 25-carry, 228-yard night off to a quick start with an 80-yard run off a power toss.
Quarterback Cameron Neff rushed 11 times for 103 yards for Goddard (3-2), including a 55-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that stood as one of Clovis’ few defensive lowlights in the second half, and gave the Rockets a 28-24 edge.
Down by that same score early in the fourth, Clovis went for it on fourth-and-13, with Yandell finding Traivon Sopila on a 36-yard pass that set up Cass’ final score, a 3-yard run with 9:54 left.
From there, the Clovis defense bent but never broke. French had a 33-yard run on the next drive to put Goddard at the Clovis 16, but the Wildcat defense stuffed three runs and Kelsey Cunningham’s 28-yard-field goal attempt didn’t get nearly enough elevation.
With 2:30 left and Goddard on its 47, a sack by Pedro Acuna on first down put the Rockets in obvious passing downs, and junior Jordan Holguin made the key tackle on a French reception 4 yards short of the marker on fourth down.
“I didn’t think he was going to go deep,” Holguin said of Neff. “I just saw that (French) caught the ball right up the middle. Nobody else was there, and I knew I had to make the play.”
Cass also scored on a 20-yard run midway through the third quarter, while Sopila caught two passes for 48 yards for the Wildcats, who visit Artesia next week. Goddard will visit Carlsbad.