RESPONDING WITH RESILIENCE

in Football

Clifton Cubs celebrate Homecoming with dominating 41-3 victory over Florence in District 13-3A, DII clash

CLIFTON – Coming off a crushing defeat in Rogers last week, the Clifton Cubs responded with a dominating 41-3 victory over the Florence Buffaloes in a District 13-3A, Division II matchup to celebrate Homecoming Night Friday night at Cub Stadium.

With the resounding win, the Cubs (2-1 in district, 3-4 overall) moved into position to control their own destiny down the home stretch of a tough district finish.

“I’m really proud of the way the kids responded this week,” Clifton football head coach Chuck Caniford said. “We had a very physical week of practice and that carried over to the game. In this district, you have to be able to turn the page quickly each week because there is no rest. We have to be able to do the same thing this week.”

Clifton did exactly that in this game as Florence (0-2, 0-6) scored first on its opening possession when Buffalo running back Brenden Woljevach broke through for a 72-yard scamper on the first play from scrimmage before Cub Luis Rodriguez made a touchdown-saving tackle. But the Clifton defense responded immediately, coming up with a big stand to limit Florence to just a field goal.

After the first play from scrimmage that led to Florence’s only points, the Cubs corralled the Buffalo offense the rest of the game. Sophomore Joe Taylor led Clifton with eight tackles, followed by sophomore Westen Urbanovsky with six takedowns, junior Griffin Phillips with five tackles and an sack, junior Jacob Rogers with five tackles and a sack, senior Devin Byrd with five takedowns and sophomore Carter Tunnell with an interception.

“That was a huge series to start the game,” Caniford said. “They popped a big play, and we got a huge effort play from Luis Rodriguez that turned out to be huge when he ran their tailback down to keep him from scoring. We got the stop on the next set of downs and forced a field goal, which was a big momentum shift to start the game.

“I thought we played really fast and physical all night and were able to control the line of scrimmage.”

From that point on, the game belonged to Clifton. Working to establish the running game, the Cubs did a good job moving the ball and dominating the time of possession while putting up 41 points.

Despite falling behind early, the Cub offense quickly responded and took control of the game by rolling up 274 yards on the ground and five rushing touchdowns. Senior Devin Byrd ran for two touchdowns while sophomore Joe Taylor finished with a game-high 111 yards on 12 carries and a score. Senior Tyler Anderson broke off a 27-yard touchdown run, and freshman quarterback Riley Finney rushed for 75 yards and a score while completing six of 11 passes for 65 yards, including a scoring strike to Rodriquez.

“I thought we executed about as efficiently as we have all year,” Caniford said. “We played much better on the offensive line and were able to spread the ball around, getting all of our skill players involved. We didn’t turn the ball over and had very few penalties. And when you do that you give yourself a chance to have a big night.”

With the win, the Cubs take control of their own postseason destiny with three tough district games ahead, beginning with a trip to Buffalo to face the undefeated Bison (2-0, 6-0) this Friday before hosting seventh-ranked Franklin (3-0, 4-2) and closing out the regular season at eighth-ranked Lexington (1-1, 4-1). But the Cubs have proven capable of fighting back from tough situations all season long.

“This is a resilient group of guys, and they have done a great job handling adversity this year,” Caniford said. “We are in a good position at this point and just need to keep getting better and take it one week at a time. Buffalo has a very good football team, but we feel like we are starting to hit our stride and are looking forward to taking another step forward this week.”

Clifton High School Homecoming 2020

Photos by DAVID HARDING

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