Cubs shock 4th-ranked Crawford

In a game that produced a playoff atmosphere at Cub Stadium, the battle between Class 3A Clifton against Class 2A, Division II’s fourth-ranked Crawford delivered everything high school football fans hope to see -- a seesaw, hard hitting contest and a dramatic finish.

Fortunately, the Cubs handed the hometown fans a thrilling 21-20 non-district victory by holding off the talented Crawford Pirates last Friday night.

Clifton’s senior running back Marc Gutierrez scored twice while rushing for a game-high 237 yards, while sophomore Riley Perry ran for another touchdown to lead the Cubs.

“We are extremely proud of our guys and the toughness they showed throughout the game,” Clifton head coach Chuck Caniford said. “We talk a lot about responding to adversity in our program, and we responded every time Crawford made a play on Friday night. I think the grit that our guys showed was the difference in the game.”

Crawford quarterback Charlie Adamick pulled the Pirates (1-1) within one with 1:09 remaining in the game on a four-yard run. Pirate head coach Delbert Kelm decided to play for the win, but when running back Garrett Dutschmann took the sweep right, Clifton’s Jackson Phillips took out the lead blocker, Hutch Kettler and Fisher Pitts started the tackle and Edgar Rodriguez finished it off to stuff the two-point conversion attempt and secure the Cub victory.

“Everyone will remember the twopoint play, but there were so many plays throughout the game that were huge,” Caniford said. “We got a big red zone stop on a fourth down earlier in the game. We were three-for-three on fourth down conversions on offense. There were so many big plays that it’s hard to pinpoint one. But certainly, the two-point play was a big one.”

In what was a back-and-forth game, Perry broke the tie early in the fourth with a hard-nose eight-yard touchdown run. After Dutschmann tied the game on a 67-yard dash, Gutierrez put the Cubs (1-1) back in front for good at 21-14 on a 15-yarder scoring run.

“We still left some scoring opportunities on the field, which is something we’ve got to get fixed,” Caniford said. “We had the ball in the red zone on three different occasions and came away with no points. We had a missed field goal, a low snap on a field goal and a bad snap when we were driving that we lost. Those are things that we’ve got to get cleaned up.

“But I think the way we responded every time they scored was really the key. Every time they scored, we came back and answered.”

Playing the Class 4A, Div. II Hillsboro Eagles in their season opener at Cub Stadium, the Cubs jumped out to a 14-0 lead early in the second half before the Eagles soared to three unanswered touchdowns to complete an impressive 20-14 come-from-behind victory in a non-district matchup.

But the Cubs put that loss behind them and rise to the occassion against the Pirates, who advanced to the Class 2A, Div. I state championship game last season.

Although Crawford running back Garrett Dutschmann, who rushed for 1,321 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2016, ran for 134 yards and two scores on just 10 carries, the Clifton defense kept the potent Pirate offense bottled up most of the game.

“I thought we played outstanding defensively,” Caniford said. “We really kept it simple this week and focused on playing your responsibility with great technique, and the kids did a great job. That was the key defensively for us. Each guy doing his job and trusting that the other 10 guys would do the same.”

Defensively, Cub lineman Mason Oliver proved to be immovable object up front while collecting a team-high 11 tackles along with a sack and a fumble recovery.

“I really believe that this was a team effort,”Caniford said. “A lot of guys had great individual performances. But guys like TJ Ferch and Riley Perry had big plays when we needed them.

“We also got great effort up front on our defensive line with Brayden Morrow, Bodee Humphreys and Treston Horn. They may not show up on the stat sheet, but they controlled the line of scrimmage all night.”

As the Cubs hope to return to the postseason for the fourth straight season and defend their District 11-3A, DII title, this victory over a state-ranked team stands out as another step for Caniford’s program.

“It’s a big win for us mentally because this is a team that we have struggled against in the past,” Caniford said. “And winning a close game against a quality opponent that comes down to the very end is a great learning experience for our young guys.”

After playing back-to-back home games to open the season, Clifton hits the road to visit Maypearl in another non-district game this Friday.

“Unfortunately, we can’t sit around and pat ourselves on the back,” Caniford said. “Maypearl doesn’t really care what we did last week, and we have to get our focus on them now. It was a great game last year, and they made the plays they needed to make to win. They return a lot of key guys and will be a very tough opponent on the road this week.”

“Maypearl has good size up front on both sides of the ball and have some skilled playmakers that are dangerous with the ball in their hand. Their quaterback is a dynamic player, and they have been playing outstanding defense. It will be a great challenge again this week, so we’ve got to get back to work and continue trying to improve every day.”

Rate this article: 
No votes yet