By Chris Umscheid
North Liberty Leader
TIFFIN– Football is a game full of statistics. For example, in Friday night’s contest between the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) Clippers and the Indians of Marion, the Indians had 287 yards of offense to CCA’s 269, and had the ball for just over 26 minutes to Creek’s 21 minutes of possession.
In the end, the most important statistic of the game was found on the scoreboard at the conclusion: CCA 21, Marion 7.
The win by CCA likely knocked Marion out of postseason play, and gave rise to hope the Clippers might earn their way in with a 4-4 record on the season and 2-3 district record for fourth place in Class 3A District 6.
“It was just heart on our guys,” Clipper skipper Matt Hughes said.
A frustrating first quarter ended with Aaron Akers rushing 4 yards to score the first touchdown of the contest. Jon Jacobson nailed the extra point kick and CCA had a hard-fought 7-0 lead. In the second quarter, the Indians regrouped and went on the warpath for a drive, which ended in their own touchdown off a 1-yard run. A good extra point kick tied the game going into the halftime break.
The rest of the game belonged to the Clippers as they outlasted and wore down the Indians. Andrew Beckler broke the tie in the third when he recovered an Indian fumble and ran 43 yards to score. Jacobson again nailed the point-after kick and the Creek boys had a 14-7 lead.
Jon Nzombo put the game out of reach for Marion just inside the fourth quarter with a 56-yard run to score. Once again Jacobson’s aim was true, his kick strong and the ball sailed through the uprights.
In the closing minute, the Clippers found themselves sitting on the goal line, in possession. In a display of sportsmanship and class, quarterback Nile Rourke took the snap, and then took a knee. He repeated this move until the clock and downs expired. Hughes explained the move. “This is a game. It’s meant to be fun, and it’s about sportsmanship, and class, and character, all those things we’re trying to teach these kids.”
The coach also had praise for his team’s opponent. “They (Marion) played their hearts out. All credit goes to Marion, they played with sportsmanship. They were helping our guys up. That’s a first-class program, and it’s a big accomplishment for our guys to come way with a win.” Hughes credited his squad’s progress and dedication for the win, the team’s second in a row.
“If you look at where we were in week one, and look at where we are now, it’s two separate teams. These guys are starting to believe in themselves now. The mind is a dangerous thing when it starts to work for you.” He said the team has switched its defense around. “We have asked our guys to change and do things they’re not accustomed to doing.” The coach said he and his staff have always asked the guys to play with heart. “Tonight, they did it. They just kept on coming as hard as they could on every play, and they got better as the game went on.”
Nzombo led the Clippers with 98 yards of rushing, Tanner Bandy had 68, Rourke put up 34 yards in the CCA ground war, Beckler had 9, Akers went 5 yards, and Harry Lucas put 2 yards of rushing into the books.
The Clippers finish the regular season at home Friday, Oct. 25, as the Maquoketa Cardinals fly in. Solon won a tough battle at Maquoketa, pulling out a 49-31 win which put the Spartans at the top of the district with a 7-1 record overall and 5-0 showing in district play. The Cardinals fell to second with a 4-1 record.
“We’re gelling at just the right time,” Hughes said. “It’s a one-game season, but every week we try to go 1-0. We took a big step forward in our own mentality, knowing that we can beat good teams. That’s what we showed ourselves today.” As for the Cardinals, the squad knows they have their work cut out for them. “It’s going to be opposite of what we saw tonight. It’s going to be a challenge for us.”