COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – The Columbiana Clippers may be a young team this year, but it definitely isn’t a rebuilding year. The Clippers improved to 3-2 on the season and 2-0 in the EOAC with a 34-14 pounding of the United Eagles Friday night.
“We started out a little slow,” halfback Chase Franklin admitted. “Springfield, we-weren’t ready, we didn’t come out with a good mindset. Leetonia was a good win last week, we didn’t fall asleep on a not so good of a team. We battled, we battled today.”
The win gives the Clippers two straight wins after a sluggish 1-2 start as they are starting to grow up as they used a solid ground game along with a controlled passing game to rack up 445 yards on the night in the win.
“We came out and punched them in the mouth, that’s what we needed to do,” Franklin remarked. “Our o-line, great holes, great blocking and great protection all around. A great game.”
“We have a great group of guys around here,” quarterback Jakob Cross added. “We have a lot of guys that can catch the ball and can make something happen with the ball. Anybody can make a big play.”
Cross and Franklin combined to account for 223 yards of the Clippers 345 rushing yards on the night, with Cross having 131 and Franklin with 92. Cross was also 8 of 14 passing for 100 yards, including two tosses to Franklin.
“I think early, he was pressing. He was trying to be Mitch (Davidson),” Clippers coach Bob Spaite remarked about his starting quarterback. “I told him, just be yourself. You can’t be anybody but yourself. He’s a good young quarterback and he’s learning each and every week.”
“Chase and Philly (Zach Phillips) have really stepped in,” Spaite added. “We lost Bable for a couple weeks which hurts us, so Zach Phillips and Chase Franklin have stepped up huge.”
The Clippers scored on their first three possessions as Cross connected with Franklin on a 16-yard pass midway through the first quarter to grab an early 7-0 lead. But United answered right back with a 1-yard run by tailback Ethan Antram to make it 7-7 a minute and 12 seconds into the second quarter.
Tailback Frank Rupert plowed into the end zone on the Clippers next possession to put them back ahead at the 7:03 mark of the second quarter. The Clippers drive covered 70-yards on 11-plays.
On the Eagles next possession, it was the Clippers defense that seized the momentum that seemed to carry them on to victory. Eagles quarterback Nathan Mikell hit Kaden Smith on a short pass in the right flank, but he was stripped of the ball with the Clippers recovering at the Eagles 37.
The Clippers took full advantage of the Eagles miscue as they only took two plays to capitalize. Franklin blasted up the middle for a 16-yard gain down to the Eagles 13 before Cross scampered for a 13-yard run to pay dirt at the 5:26 mark of the quarter.
“That was huge for us,” Spaite exclaimed. “That was a huge momentum shift right there. That was a big momentum shift. No doubt about it.”
“The problem for us is for the second week in a row we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot in the most inopportune times,” Demster said. “Hats off to Columbiana, they played a heck of a game. But we need to focus on us and eliminating those mistakes at crucial times.”
The Clippers would push their advantage to 21-points at the 4:42 mark of the third quarter when Franklin would bobble a pass from Cross at the 11-yard line before he was able to gather it in and race in for his second touchdown catch on the night.
Ethan Antram, who rushed for 126 yards and scored two touchdowns on the night for the Eagles then broke loose on a 61-yard run around left end to cut the Eagles deficit back down to 14-points at 28-14 with 3:10 left in the third quarter.
But the Clippers offense wore down the Eagles as they would close the scoring with 8:48 left in the game as they marched 62-yards on 8-plays with Steven Anderson scoring on a 1-yard blast.
“It’s great,” Cross said of the victory. “Coming out and we’re 2-0 in the league. We fought hard tonight. We pulled out a W tonight against a really tough team in United.”
“We get better little steps at a time,” Spaite remarked about his team. “I’m not taking anything away from Springfield or Western Reserve, Springfield mauled us. It seems like we have learned from that. Now we’ll see, lessons sometimes are short-lived.”
Next week the Clippers will travel to Toronto while the Eagles will host the Wellsville Tigers.
United vs Columbiana High School Football: September 22, 2017
United vs Columbiana High School Football: September 22, 2017 x
CO – Chase Franklin 16 pass from Jakob Cross (Jared Bryarly Kick)
CO – Ethan Antram 1 run (Zack Himes Kick)
CO – Frank Rupert 1 run (Bryarly Kick)
CO – Cross 1 run (Bryarly Kick)
CO – Franklin 11 pass from Cross (Bryarly Kick)
UN – Antram 61 run (Himes Kick)
CO – Steven Anderson 1 run (Kick Failed)