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Amboy-LaMoille defenders Chris Jones (No. 22) and Drake Barlow (No. 12) tackle St. Bede’s Baylee Hopps during the Clippers’ 15-14 victory Friday in Peru. A-L was penalized on the play for a hit to the head. NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
Despite holding a one-point lead with less than three minutes remaining Friday, momentum was not on the Amboy-LaMoille football team’s side.
St. Bede had just completed a 41-yard pass on fourth-and-23 — even after a Clipper defender tipped the ball — and the Bruins drove down to the A-L 15-yard line.
However, the Clippers responded.
After an 8-yard loss on a fumble, A-L’s Chris Jones intercepted a pass to seal a 15-14 victory for the Clippers in their season opener in Peru.
“The big thing was that fourth down where they got the pass, and we didn’t give up there at the end,” said A-L coach Gary Jones, who is not related to Chris. “Maybe some teams would have let down and quit and died right there, but we hunt right there and got the interception.”
St. Bede quarterback Jack Brady 6-of-10 passes for 90 yards on the drive before Jones stepped up for the Clippers.
“We were in cover 2 and he was back there. We told him to read the quarterback’s eyes and he stepped right up,” Gary Jones said. “We had man-to-man coverage with him floating in the middle. We kept the middle linebacker (Jones) because they kept running somebody off in the middle. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.”
Brady finished 13-of-26 for 192 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“Jack pulled some great plays out of his hat,” SBA coach John Bellino said. “It’s just too bad at the end the ball was a little wet, he didn’t have a good grip and he threw a duck up there in the middle. When it’s not thrown hard up the middle, it’s going to get picked off.”
The Clippers took the lead for good with 7:14 left in the third quarter when Drake Barlow broke through the left side and scampered 68 yards for a touchdown. Alexis Gutierrez booted the extra point for the 15-14 lead.
Barlow only had eight carries but made the most of his opportunities as he finished with 109 yards as the speedy complement to bruising fullback Dallas Appleman.
The 5-foor-11, 205-pound senior finished with 102 yards on 20 carries and scored on a 1-yard run with 6:47 left in the first half.
“We ran the ball pretty well,” said Gary Jones, whose team ran the ball 51 times for 275 yards. “We caught them on the backside when they were running some slants, and we hit them in there in the third and fourth quarters. Then they made some adjustments to that and we had a pretty difficult time. We still have a ton of work to do yet, but I thought our running game looked pretty good.
“Barlow is more of a speed back and Appleman is a power back. He’s going to run you over, so we kind of worked those two in there together.”
The Bruins, meanwhile, had trouble getting their offense going, especially on the ground.
St. Bede finished with just 65 rushing yards on 21 carries — and had a running play stopped in the end zone for a safety with 10.6 seconds left in the first quarter — and only managed 102 passing yards before the final drive.
“In the first half especially, we had very poor field position and our offensive line didn’t do as well as we thought they would,” Bellino said. “Even some of our runs were more the talent of our running backs and not our offensive line. We have a lot of work to do.”
Gary Jones said it was an important win for the Clippers after last year’s 2-7 season.
“This was a big win for us,” Jones said. “Any time you win your opening game it’s a huge win for you to get that confidence going. Last year we had a ton of injuries. What coulda, woulda, shoulda wasn’t. We needed this one. We have to get back rolling on the right track again. Notes: St. Bede won the sophomore game 12-0. … The fourth quarter of the sophomore game was delayed half an hour due to lightning. Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter@NT_SportsEditor.
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