STICKING WITH THE PLAN

in Football

After a hard-fought first half stalemate, the undefeated Buffalo Bison stampeded past the Clifton Cubs in District 13-3A, DII tilt

BUFFALO — With a sound game plan in hand, almost everything went according to script in the first half last Friday night as the Clifton Cubs attempted to knock off District 13-3A, Division II opponent Buffalo from the ranks of the undefeated. But a Bison third quarter stampede powered Buffalo to a 41-23 home victory over the Cubs.

After Clifton gave undefeated Buffalo all they could handle before intermission, the Bison (3-0 in district, 7-0 overall) used 14 unanswered points in the third quarter to pull away as senior quarterback Brett Hoffman ran for three touchdowns and threw for another.

“Buffalo has an outstanding football team, and they are very explosive on offense,” Clifton football head coach Chuck Caniford said. “We knew it would be a challenge to slow them down, so we had to try to control the time of possession and keep them off the field.  We were able to do that in the first half.  We had three possessions and scored on each of them, using significant time on each of those drives.”

Spreading the workload around to five different backs, the Cubs (2-2, 3-5) established the running game while piling up 251 yards on the ground on 52 carries as sophomore running back Joe Taylor ran for two scores and senior running back Tyler Anderson cashed in on a six-yard touchdown run. Freshman quarterback Riley Finney led Clifton with 80 yards rushing on a team-high 16 attempts while completing eight of 11 passes for 89 yards.

Junior Luis Rodriguez pulled down three receptions for 44 yards, including a 34-yarder that set up senior placekicker Jose Ramirez, who nailed a field goal with just seconds left in the first half to trail Buffalo, 20-17, at intermission.

“We were right where we wanted to be at halftime, only trailing by three and getting the ball to start the second half,” Caniford said. “Unfortunately, we did not have good possessions on our first two drives of the second half, and that was the difference in the game.  We weren’t able to convert, and they did.  Ultimately, it came down to execution. They were able to effectively execute in the third quarter, and we were not. “

After relying on the defense to keep them in games most of the season, the Cubs could not solve the Bison’s balanced offensive attack on their way to 379 yards of total offense. Senior running back Eric Beshears led the ground game with 123 yards on 12 carries for two touchdowns, and Hoffman added another 84 yards rushing while completing nine of 14 passes for 172 yards, spreading the ball around to three receivers equally.

Senior Devyn Byrd led the Cubs with nine tackles, sharing a sack with junior Griffin Phillips, followed by junior John Paul Gardner with five takedowns and senior Elias Tebo with four.

Despite losing to Buffalo, the Cubs remain in control of their own playoff destiny, in part due to Rogers (2-2, 3-5) knocking off Lexington, 33-27, last Friday night. Looking for its seventh straight trip to the postseason, Clifton will have an open date this week, then host eighth-ranked Franklin (4-0, 5-2) Oct. 30 before wrapping up the regular season on the road at previously state-ranked Lexington (1-2, 4-2).

“While we are not ever happy with a loss, we have to focus on what lies ahead,” Caniford said. “We are still in control of our own playoff chances, and that’s all you can ask for. We need to get better this week during our bye week and play well against Franklin.

“This week, our focus has to be on getting better every day. This will be a good week for us to focus on us and doing what we need to do to get better and that’s exactly what we are going to do.”

Photos by DAVID HARDING

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