OVERTIME TRIFECTA: Clifton slips by Edgewood in overtime thriller

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Class 3A, DII Bi-District: Clifton 28, Edgewood 27 (OT)

WAXAHACHIE – In the end, the Clifton Cubs needed a big play from all three phases of the game to pull off an overtime victory against Edgewood in their Class 3A, Division II Bi-District playoff matchup Friday night at Waxahachie’s Lumpkin Stadium. Facing a do-or-die scenario, that’s exactly what the Cubs did.

Clifton senior running back Riley Perry opened overtime with an explosive 25-yard touchdown run, junior placekicker Jose Ramirez nailed the extra point, and the Cub defense swarmed Edgewood running back Kyle Keltner on the two-point conversion attempt to win the game, providing the Cubs with a thrilling 28-27 overtime win and Clifton’s sixth consecutive first round playoff victory.

“I’m proud of what our kids and coaches have been able to accomplish the last six years,” Clifton football head coach Chuck Caniford said. “For me, the mark of a great program is consistency, and we have been able to maintain that level of success over this time. We measure our success each year on the number of gold footballs we earn, and we’ve been able to earn quite a few over the last six years.”

After Clifton (8-3) quickly took the lead in overtime on Perry’s determined run and Ramirez’ clutch kick, Edgewood mounted a seven-play scoring drive using a power running game behind Keltner, who bulled in from three yards out for the score. But on the two-point conversion run, senior Joel Santillan and sophomore Jimmie Taylor plugged up the hole, senior Hayden Newton grabbed Keltner from behind, and Perry stepped up to deliver the finishing hit as the Cub defense swarmed to preserve the win.

“We found a way to make the big plays we needed in the most critical times,” Caniford said. “I think a key to this is that our guys never panicked. They maintained their composure and were confident that they would be able to get it done in the end. 

“We had some success with that same outside zone play in the second half, and we got some great blocks on the perimeter to spring Riley into the end zone.  Then defensively, Coach Mayfield had a great feel for what they were going to run on their two-point play, and our guys were ready for it. They stepped up and made the biggest stop of the game when we needed it the most.”

After being held to only 52 total yards in the first quarter and a half of the game, the Cub offense put together a scoring drive late in the second quarter and continued to move the ball in the second half. Senior quarterback Mason Brandenberger scrambled for 152 yards and a touchdown while passing for another, connecting with senior Weston Schasteen on a nine-yard scoring strike. Perry finished with 59 yards rushing and two scores.

“We didn’t play consistent enough throughout the game to put the game out of reach,” Caniford said. “But we were able to get some things going starting in the second quarter. And once we found our rhythm, I thought we played much better as the game progressed.” 

After Edgewood ran the ball effectively and hurt the Cubs with the pass a few times in the first half, the Clifton defense, slowed down the running game and shut down the passing attack. Perry led the Cubs with 13 tackles, followed by senior Mason Ochoa with 12, senior TJ Ferch with eight tackles and an interception, as well as sophomores Griffin Phillips and Taylor with seven each.

“I thought our coaches did a great job of making adjustments at halftime,” Caniford said. “And the kids did a great job of putting those adjustments to work in the second half.” 

With the win, Clifton advances to the Area Playoff round to face Class 3A, DII’s fourth-ranked Gunter (10-1), once again playing at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Waxahachie’s Lumpkins Stadium. The Cubs have not won an Area Championship since 1993.

“We have been able to maintain a consistent level of success, but we want to take it to the next level,” Caniford said. “In order to do that, we need to beat a team like Gunter in the playoffs. This is something that are kids have talked about since last December, and something that they have worked for since then.  I don’t anticipate having to get them up for this week at all.”

Photos by DAVID HARDING

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