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After losing District 13-3A, DII opener to the Rogers Eagles on the road, Clifton Cubs host Buffalo Bison Friday looking to get into the playoff chase

CLIFTON – Although opening district competition with a loss never rates as desirable, the Clifton Cubs knew going into their District 13-3A, Division II matchup on the road against Rogers last Friday night that it would not prove to be one they had to win.

But coming off a lopsided 38-7 loss to the Eagles at Merk Field in Rogers, the Cubs now face the closest thing to a must-win situation this week when Clifton (0-1 in district, 1-5 overall) returns home to host the Buffalo Bison at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Cub Stadium.

Certainly not the way Clifton wanted to open district, but the Cubs ran up against a very good team in Rogers on a mission to snap a two-game losing streak. The Eagles (1-0, 4-2) entered the season as Class 3A, DII’s 22nd-ranked team by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football pre-season poll. But after opening the season with three straight wins, Rogers came into district riding back-to-back losses.

“Rogers was a very good football team,” Clifton first-year head coach Brent Finney said. “They outplayed us in every phase Friday night. We must regroup, and move forward to Buffalo.”

In the first half, the Cub defense did a good job keeping Clifton in the game before the Eagles broke it open in the third quarter. With the Cubs trailing by only 17-0 at halftime but failing to capitalize on scoring opportunities, Rogers put up 15 unanswered points after halftime to put Clifton in what proved to be an insurmountable hole.

Junior Riley Finney led the Cub defensive effort with 15 tackles, followed by senior Larrett Thomas with nine tackles as well as senior Peyten Urbanovsky, junior Andres Devora and junior Ervin Rodriguez with six takedowns each. Seniors Makail Brandenberger, AJ Lingo and Jayden Simmons collected sacks while Urbanovsky came up with a fumble recovery.

“Not scoring after the defense forced a turnover in the first half hurt us,” Finney said. “Then when we fumbled and gave them a short field, they were able to capitalize. We can’t give our opponents extra chances and must take advantage of our scoring opportunities.”

In the meantime, the Eagles were able to effectively shut down the Cub offense as Clifton produced only 114 yards of total offense. In addition to scoring Clifton’s only touchdown late in the fourth quarter, Finney led the Cubs with 43 hard-earned rushing yards while Simmons caught three passes for 22 yards.

“Rogers was more physical up front than we were on both sides of the ball,” Finney said. “We must improve getting some movement and not getting blown off the ball.”

This week, the Cubs host the Buffalo Bison at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Cub Stadium. The Bison (1-0 in district, 3-3 overall) defeated the Elkhart Elks, 27-8, at home last Friday night and will enter the game against Clifton riding a two-game win streak.

“Once again, Buffalo will have a size advantage,” Finney said. “We have to be able to move the ball more consistently and limit their big plays.”


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