AMBOY - Class 2A No. 5 Amboy/LaMoille welcomed in 1-6 Marquette, but early on, it looked as if the teams had reversed roles as the Cru jumped out to a quick two-score lead before the Clippers used a big second half to come away with a 34-22 victory.
"Give them credit, they came out here ready to play and had us on our heels early," A/L coach Gary Jones said. "We made some adjustments at the half and were able to get a win, but that's a good 1-6 ball club."
Marquette coach Jim Eustice agreed.
"We came out excited and had them on their heels in the first half," Eustice said. "But in the second half, they came out and physically beat us. That's why they are the fifth-ranked team in the state. They are a very good football team and they have a great back. We missed a few tackles, and you can't do that against (Cody) Richardson."
No, you can't as the senior Clipper star racked up 327 yards on 30 carriers and hit pay dirt four times in leading the A/L offense.
The game began with the Crusaders receiving the opening kickoff, and after a fine return by Tanner Barra, the Cru set up their first drive in good position at their own 45.
Marquette pounded the ball down the field with Robbie Dunn and Blake Poundstone doing the bulk of the work on a 12-play, 6-minute drive that resulted in a 2-yard Dunn dive up the middle for a touchdown. Following a Bryan LeRette extra point, the Cru led 7-0.
Eustice then rolled the dice and called for an onside kick. It came up a lucky seven as the Crusaders landed on the ball at their own 48-yard line.
On the first snap, quarterback Zak Worsley hooked up with Poundstone for a 32-yard completion and a first down deep in Clipper territory. Dunn then put Marquette on the door step with a 20-yard scamper, but a 15-yard walkoff against the Cru forced a third-and-goal from the 15.
Worsley again looked in Poundstone's direction, and the pair hooked up on a fade route to the corner of the end zone for quick 14-0 Crusader lead.
A stunned home crowd looked on as the Clippers trailed by 14 points with 3 minutes left in the first period without having run an offensive play.
The Clippers began their first possession on their own 33-yard, line but the drive did not take long.
On the second play, Richardson cut off the left side and sprinted 58 yards for the score, and after a Taylor Doege kick, the Clippers had cut the lead to 14-7. That's how the first quarter ended.
In the second quarter, the Crusaders drove deep into Clipper territory before the Amboy/LaMoille defense stepped things up.
On third-and-3, Levi Kaleel and Billy Longmire combined to stuff the Cru ball carrier for no gain to force a fourth-and-3.
On fourth down, defensive back C.J. Shields knifed into the Marquette backfield to blow up the play for a loss.
The teams exchanged possessions before the Clippers sustained a drive to the Marquette 36-yard line,
But the Cru defense answered with a stand of its own with Wayne Wackerline and Dunn making back-to-back tackles for loss and preserving the 14-7 halftime lead.
In the second half, the Clippers came out with a simple plan - blow open a hole and let Richardson do his thing.
On the opening drive, that is what they did.
Driving 62 yards on 10 plays, A/L tied the score on a Richardson 3-yard run with 7:23 left in the third.
The score remained tied heading to the final period.
But it would not last long.
After a big third down conversion on an 11-yard pass from A/L quarterback Steven Apple to Shields, Richardson broke free again - this time for a punishing 16-yard run up the middle for a score.
The Clippers had their first lead of the night at 21-14.
Following a three-and-out by Marquette, the Clippers again set sail for the end zone behind its big offensive line.
"Cody had some long runs, but in the second half, we came out and our linemen blew some huge holes for him to run through," Jones said.
Those linemen were Kaleel, Tyler Behrends, Matt Bickett, Conor Leffelman and Chad Heckman.
Brian Appleman scored from a yard out and Richardson tacked on a 60-yard touchdown to seal the win.
With one minute left, Worsely hit D.J. Aussem for a 70-yard pass to set up a Dunn 2-yard touchdown run.
n Note: Marquette won the sophomore game 32-14.
Don Baldin can be reached at 223-3200, ext. 139, or at email@example.com