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Coming off heartbreaking District 13-3A, DII overtime loss to Buffalo, Clifton Cubs hit the road to face the ninth-ranked & undefeated Lexington Eagles

As the saying goes, out of the frying pan and into the fire. And that’s exactly what awaits the Clifton Cubs this week. Coming off their hard-fought, heartbreaking District 13-3A, Division II loss to the Buffalo Bison, 21-13, in overtime last Friday night at Cub Stadium, Clifton hits the road to take on the undefeated and ninth-ranked Lexington Eagles Friday at 7:30 p.m.

After five straight non-district games, the Eagles (2-0 in district, 7-0 overall) opened district with a 61-0 win on the road over Florence before knocking off Elkhart, 36-6, on the road last Friday night.

“Lexington is a very good football team,” Clifton’s first-year head coach Brent Finney said. “They will field a very aggressive defense and explosive offense.”

While their prospects of making the playoffs will come down to the last two games of the season against the Elkhart Elks (1-1, 2-5) and the Florence Eagles (0-2, 1-5), winning the district home opener against Buffalo would have been a big lift for the Clifton football program. And the Cubs (0-2, 1-6) pushed it to the limit by forcing overtime.

“Yes, that would have been a great win for our team, but we are not out of the playoff hunt yet,” Finney said. “We are still proud of how hard they played even with all the adversity. I am very proud of our kids and coaches for continuing to work hard and find a way to give us a chance.”

Getting on the scoreboard quickly, the Cubs took the opening kickoff and march down the field to score. Ignited with an electric 37-yard scamper by junior running back Parker Tunnell, Clifton capped the drive when sophomore quarterback Joaquin De La Hoya connected with junior wide receiver Andres Devora on a 27-yard scoring strike to give the Cubs an early 7-0 lead.

But after scoring on their opening drive, the Cubs struggle to move the ball and sustain drives while Buffalo (2-0, 4-3) embarked on two scoring drives of its own. Once falling behind, 13-7, the Clifton offense responded to tie the score at 13-13 before halftime on senior Jadyn Simmons two-yard touchdown run with 3:20 left before intermission.

“We were able to move the ball a little more this game,” Finney said. “But a few very untimely mistakes killed a couple drives.”

Parker Tunnell led the Cubs with 96 yards rushing on 15 carries, followed by junior fullback Riley Finney with 31 hard-earned yards in 11 attempts. Filling in for injured senior starting quarterback Trent Guinn, De La Hoya completed five of 11 passes for 68 yards with an interception, connecting with Devora four times for 58 yards.

Despite surrendering two first quarter touchdowns, the Cubs shutout Buffalo for the next three quarters to help push the game into overtime. In fact, the defense stepped up big to hold Buffalo several times, but the Cub offense failed to capitalize on their scoring opportunities.

Finney led the Cubs defensively with 12 tackles, followed by senior Peyten Urbanovsky with nine takedowns, senior Larrett Thomas with eight tackles and two fumble recoveries, senior Carter Tunnell with eight tackles and senior Mason Williams with seven.

“Defensively, we were able to keep them from driving the field most of the night,” Finney said. “But also, a couple mistakes allowed them to keep a couple drives alive. In close games, those are the plays that ultimately prove to be the difference.”


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