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Class 3A, Division II Riesel Indians rally in the fourth quarter to sink Clifton Cubs, 25-21, in District 13-3A, DII opener

RIESEL – Just when it appeared the Clifton Cubs had the game exactly where they wanted it, their District 13-3A Division II opener began to slip away.

Scoring the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter, Riesel senior quarterback Kyson Dieterich rushed for two scores and threw for another as the Indians rallied for a dramatic 25-21 victory over Clifton Friday night at Fair Park Field.

Cub senior running back Will Simmons rushed for a season-high 181 yards and a touchdown as Clifton grinded out 271 yards rushing and scored three times on the ground. And despite taking a 21-10 lead with 9:23 left in the third quarter, it wasn’t enough for the Cubs to secure their first win of the season.

“We did a lot of good things on Friday night, but we didn’t do them when the game was on the line,” Clifton head coach Chuck Caniford said. “We had opportunities to put the game away in the fourth quarter and couldn’t do it.”

After Riesel (1-0 in district, 3-1 overall) took the lead on Dieterich’s 41-yard keeper up the middle with 10:43 left, the Cubs had two opportunities to recapture the lead. Clifton immediately responded as Simmons broke off a huge run to the Riesel 34-yard line. But after moving inside the Riesel 10, the drive stalled as Cub senior quarterback Robert Goodman was sacked and stripped of the ball on fourth down with 6:09 left in the game.

But Clifton (0-1, 0-5) wasn’t done yet as the Cub defense held the Indians for a three downs-and-out. Beginning their final possession with 4: 19 left on the clock, the Cubs moved the ball but stalled at midfield.

“We had a drive end on a fumble in positive territory and one end on a turnover on downs inside the 10 yard line,” Caniford said. “We have to be able to finish. I hate it for our kids, because they are really getting better every week. But we have to find a way to finish games.”

Clifton appeared to take control of the game by taking the second half kickoff and driving down the field to take a 21-10 lead. Simmons turned the corner for a 49-yard romp before cashing in on a 10-yard scoring run, then Goodman ran for the two-point conversion.

Despite holding an 11-point lead with 9:23 left in the third quarter, the Cub defense gave up a couple of big plays to allow the Indians to rally for the win. Leading Riesel on both sides of the ball, Dieterich rushed for 170 yard and passed for 89 more, while posting 14 tackles defensively while causing and recovering a fumble.

Then when they needed it most, the Cub offense was unable to put more points on the board despite moving the ball and breaking off a couple of big plays. The pivotal point in the game came on their next to last possession as the Cubs moved inside the Riesel 10-yard line with 6:09 left in the game. But on fourth-and-goal from the Riesel eight-yard line, the Indians sacked Goodman and stripped him of the ball.

“Fortunately for us, this is just one game in a six-game district schedule, and our destiny is still in our hands and will be for a while,” Caniford said. “We just have to find a way to put it all together and string a couple of wins together.”

The District 13-3A, DII opener began with a flurry of scoring as Riesel took the opening kickoff and march down for a score. Clifton responded on its ensuing possession when Goodman hooked up with senior JP Gardner for a 28-yard gain before Finney darted for a 26-yard run. Two plays later, Finney sliced into the endzone for the game-tying score.

After the Indians nailed a 33-yard field goal, the Cubs grabbed their first lead of the game in the second quarter, keyed by Goodman connecting with sophomore Andres Devora for a 35-yard gain. Sophomore running back Riley Finney followed by ripping off a 26-yard run, before capping the drive with a four-yard touchdown run.

“Football is a game of momentum and seasons are no different,” Caniford said. “We have to find a way to generate some momentum in the next couple of weeks to put ourselves back into the playoff race.”

This Friday, the Cubs will play host to the Rogers Eagles (1-0 in district, 3-2 overall) coming off a dominating 62-6 district opening victory over the Buffalo Bison.

“Rogers has a very good football team,” Caniford said. “Much like us, they challenge themselves in their non-district schedule and have played some really quality opponents. There won’t be a lot of secrets on either side of this game as we’ve played each other for years and have a pretty good understanding of philosophies and personnel.”

Looking at common opponents, Rogers lost its season opener to Little-River Academy, 38-28, while the Bumblebees knocked off Clifton, 35-7, in Week 2.

“The most important thing for us to focus on getting better every day,” Caniford said. “If you focus too much on the result, then you aren’t giving attention to the things that you need to do to get the result you want.

“This is an important game because it’s the next one, but it’s no more important than any other game remaining on our schedule. We just have to continue to build on the things that we are doing well and get better in the areas where we need to improve.”


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