AMBOY – Amboy-LaMoille-Ohio and Milledgeville split their two football games this season. Fortunately for the Clippers, they won the most important one.
Trying to avenge a week two 24-12 loss to the Missiles, Amboy hit on three big scoring plays and the defense was able to contain the high-flying Milledgeville offense, and the result was a 28-18 Clipper victory in the second round of the Illinois 8-Man Football Association playoffs on Nov. 6 at the AHS field.
The win propelled the 10th-seeded Clippers (7-4) into the semifinal-round where they will host third-seeded Orangeville (10-1) for a 1 p.m. kickoff on Saturday, Nov. 13. The Broncos defeated Amboy, 55-6, in a week eight contest at Orangeville. The second-seeded Missiles bowed out of the playoffs with a 9-2 record.
Milledgeville entered the game averaging 46 points per game, but the Missile offense never really took off until the fourth quarter against the hard-hitting Amboy defense. By that time, the Clippers had built a comfortable three-touchdown lead, and the 12-minute final frame just wasn’t enough for the Missiles to stage a comeback against Amboy.
The two teams played a scoreless first quarter, but a booming 53-yard punt off the foot of Amboy’s Tucker Lindenmeyer with 3:32 left in the opening stanza proved to be a huge play in leading to the first touchdown of the game.
Pinned back at its own 13-yard line after the punt, Milledgeville was unable to pick up a first down and punted the ball back to the Clippers, who took over possession right at midfield. On the third play of Amboy’s drive, Lindenmeyer rolled out to his right and connected on a pass to tight end Brennan Blaine, who spun around and outran the Missile defense 45 yards to the end zone to start the scoring. The two-point conversion pass from Lindenmeyer to Blaine was nullified by a penalty, so the Clippers tried again, and this time they were successful on a Lindenmeyer pass to Quinn Leffelman to put Amboy up 8-0.
Milledgeville finally got its offense going on the ensuing possession and marched 58 yards in 11 plays, with Ashton Nobis running it in from the 1-yard line with 5:48 left before intermission. The Missiles tried to tie the score with a two-point run, but Amboy stopped it short of the goal line.
The Clippers responded on their next offensive series and it didn’t take them long to get back in the end zone. Amboy needed just five plays to cover 63 yards, the final play being a 45-yard sprint to the end zone by Kye Koch with 4:06 showing on the clock. Amboy’s two-point run attempt was no good.
Milledgeville looked to be back in business on its next possession when it moved just inside the Clipper red zone, but Nobis coughed up the football on a fourth-and-one play from the Clipper 19-yard line, and Amboy’s Jordan Gully pounced on the pigskin with 1:25 left in the half.
A 39-yard run by Dylan Daniels got the Clippers out from deep in their own territory and into Missile terrain at the 42. Amboy moved the ball another 12 yards, but by that time there were less than 10 seconds on the clock. So, all Lindenmeyer could do was throw up a Hail Mary, and somehow the ball landed in the hands of Amboy’s Caden Wittenauer for a 30-yard TD strike with no time left in the half. Lindenmeyer passed to Blaine for the two-pointer and Amboy took a 22-6 lead to the locker room.
A dominating Clipper defense was the story in the third quarter as it stopped Milledgeville on third-and-one and fourth-and-one from the Amboy 15-yard line to start the second half. Although the Clippers didn’t score when they took over possession, they were able to take over five and a half minutes off the clock before they gave the ball back to Milledgeville.
The Missiles didn’t have the ball long, however, as Lindenmeyer intercepted a Missile pass and returned it to Milledgeville’s 40. The Clippers couldn’t do anything with the drive and punted the ball back to the Missiles, but quarterback Connor Nye gave it right back to Amboy when Levi McKinley swiped a Nye aerial and returned it 18 yards to the Milledgeville 2. Two plays later, Lindenmeyer was in the end zone with a 1-yard touchdown run. The two-point run was no good and Amboy owned a 28-6 lead with 11:06 left in the game.
Milledgeville had excellent field position to start its next series, and it took full advantage by moving the ball 51 yards in five plays, the last one being a 14-yard touchdown pass from Nye to Kieren Harris. The two-point try failed and it was 28-12 with 9:59 left.
Blaine recovered an onside kick, and then after the Clipper drive stalled, Lindenmeyer punted 48 yards to the Milledgeville 22. Amboy’s defense took over on downs when a fourth-and-seven completed pass by the Missiles came up short.
Amboy gave Milledgeville another chance when a fumble was recovered by the Missiles’ Dimetri Garza at their own 29 with 5:15 left. The Missiles advanced the ball to the Clipper 7-yard line where Nye hooked up with Harris for a TD pass, but it was nullified by a holding penalty on Milledgeville. Then on fourth-and-five from the 10-yard line, the Clippers were whistled for a pass interference, which placed the ball on the 1. From there, Nye ran it in to draw the Missiles to within 28-18 with 1:59 left. A crucial two-point conversion would have made it a one-score game, but Harris bobbled the ball as he went out of bounds.
Milledgeville tried another onside kick, but Blaine grabbed it again and the Clippers were able to run out the clock.