Amboy survives thriller

Junior Troy Anderson and sophomore Quinn Leffelman battle Miford/Cissna Park defenders for the ball in an 8-man football second-round playoff game Saturday in Milford. Photo courtesy of Brenda Merriman

Clippers advance to semifinals

AMBOY — Halloween may have past, but the thrillers have not.

“Milford/Cissna Park had the ball on our 4-yard line. It was fourth down, they needed 2 yards, and there were nine seconds on the clock,” said Scott Payne, the Amboy-LaMoille-Ohio football coach. “They ran a sweep. We hit them, Eddie Jones stripped the ball, and Quinn Leffelman recovered the ball in the end zone. 

“It was an emotional roller coaster. You can’t really explain it. It was a great finish to a really good game. We were lucky enough to come out with the victory.”

The Clippers trailed the Bearcats in the 8-man football second-round playoff game Saturday in Milford until mid-way through the fourth quarter. 

Amboy was able to get the points and the defensive stops it needed to win, 30-28.

The playoff victory feels even better for the Clippers since Milford beat them in Week 4.

“We totally used that loss to them as revenge factor. All week long we talked about how bad we played in first game, but we still had a chance to win,” Payne said. “We told them if they played well, they could win. 

“The second half was probably the best football they played all year.”

Junior Landon Whelchel recorded 24 carries for 174 yards and three touchdowns while Leffelman had 19 touches for 98 yards and a score.

Tucker Lindenmeyer, the senior quarterback, had 26 rushing yards, 36 passing yards, and a touchdown pass to junior receiver Brennan Blaine.

“It was so windy, so we couldn’t throw deep. The TD pass was a tunnel screen to Blaine,” Payne said. “We put Lindenmeyer in the second half as defensive back. We were trying to hold out on returning him to the defensive side of things because he just came back from his injury, he had in Week 4 against Milford. But we had to put him in to help us.”

Playing against Milford in Week 4 helped Payne and the Clippers better prepare for the second time around.

“We went to a no-huddle offense to stop them from substituting their big defensive tackles in and out of the game like they did,” Payne said. “It worked really well. It wore them down for the fourth quarter. We wanted to wear them down and make sure they were tired so they weren’t as effective.

“The kids picked it up really well and they did a great job doing it. It was hand signals, so nothing too complicated, and they did a great job.”

The semifinals will be in Amboy as the No. 5-seeded Clippers are playing host to No. 8 St. Thomas Moore of Champaign at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Payne and his staff have already scouted the Sabers.

“They have a big offensive line and a great wide receiver, Peace Bumba. They like to throw deep to him. We will have to work on our passing defense,” Payne said. “Offensively, we will do what has worked well for us and that’s running the ball. We will take our shots in the air when we have the opportunity.”

“They were obviously excited after the Milford game. Halfway through the bus ride home, they realized they have another game. They know their mission isn’t finished. We found out we are playing, St. Thomas Moore, on the bus and they were immediately ready.

“We got to the semifinals last year and we lost. They don’t want that to happen. We should have a great week of practice as they’re hungry to get further than they did last year and want to play for a state title.”

Payne is also hoping his team plays like it did in the second half against Milford, not the first.

The Clippers threw an interception and lost a fumble in the first half. In the fourth quarter, Amboy forced two Bearcat turnovers as Jones picked off the Bearcats’ quarterback and then stripped the ball for Leffelman to recover the fumble to end the game.


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