AMBOY – When Orangeville denied Amboy-LaMoille-Ohio of the go-ahead touchdown with a tremendous goal-line stand in the third quarter, it was like a torpedo ripping a giant hole in the Clippers’ ship.
Right after that, the Clippers took on more water as the Broncos’ offense embarked on a long, time-consuming scoring drive and Amboy never recovered in a 34-12 loss to Orangeville in the semifinal-round of the Illinois 8-Man Playoffs on Nov. 13 at the AHS field.
The 10th-seeded Clippers closed out the season with a 7-5 record, while third-seeded Orangeville (11-1) advanced to the 8-man state championship game against top-seeded Polo (12-0) to be played at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19 at Monmouth College. Orangeville and Polo did not face each other during the regular season. The Marcos made it to the title game with a 50-14 drubbing of Biggsville (West Central).
Trailing 13-12 at the half, the Clippers had a golden opportunity to take the lead when an Orangeville fumble on its first possession of the second half was recovered by Amboy’s Joe Quest at the Bronco 15-yard line. The Clippers picked up a first down inside the 5-yard line, then moved the ball to inside the 1-yard line where it faced a third-and-goal. A run up the middle gained a few inches, then on fourth-and-goal, Amboy quarterback Tucker Lindenmeyer looked like he was going to run a bootleg, but the junior signal-caller slipped and fell to the turf at the 5, and the Clippers were turned away from taking the lead.
To make matters worse for Amboy, the Broncos answered that defensive goal-line denial with an eight-play, 95-yard scoring drive that took over four minutes to complete. Brayden Cahoon capped off the back-breaker for the Clippers when he raced 58 yards to the end zone, followed by a Cahoon two-point conversion run to stretch Orangeville’s lead to 21-12 with 3:02 left in the third quarter.
On Amboy’s ensuing offensive possession, which started at its own 42, it was three plays and a punt, and the Broncos had the ball back at their own 20 with 2:03 left in the third. Orangeville still maintained possession when the third quarter spilled over into the fourth, and the Bronco offense kept churning away at the Clipper defense until just under seven minutes were left in the game. That’s when, on the 13th play of the drive, Orangeville’s Gunar Lobdell rambled 39 yards to paydirt to increase his team’s lead to 27-12 with just 6:42 left. The PAT kick was blocked.
Orangeville’s Carson Rote intercepted a Lindenmeyer pass on Amboy’s next series and he returned it to the Clipper 35. Six plays later, Lobdell was in the end zone from 5 yards out, and Gavin Roth’s extra-point kick provided the final 34-12 margin.
The Broncos received the game’s opening kick and completed an eight-play, 60-yard scoring drive when Lobdell ran in from the 40-yard line on a fourth-and-two play. Roth booted the extra point for a 7-0 Orangeville lead.
Amboy quickly answered the Bronco TD with one of its own on its first possession of the game. Starting at their own 35, the Clippers used two plays to cover 5 yards, then on third-and-five, Lindenmeyer hooked up with Amboy tight end Brennan Blaine on a 60-yard touchdown strike. The count remained at 7-6 when the Clippers’ two-point pass attempt was incomplete.
Orangeville’s potent offense went back to work and put the ball back in the end zone when Rote connected with Cahoon for a 52-yard touchdown pass at the 4:31 mark of the opening stanza. The extra-point kick was blocked.
Amboy picked up one first down on its next series, but was forced to punt the ball back to Orangeville. The Clipper defense came up big when Quinn Leffelman smothered a Bronco fumble and Amboy took over at its own 16-yard line.
The Clippers were able to capitalize on that turnover with their second touchdown of the game when Blaine gathered in a Lindenmeyer aerial from 15 yards out with 5:59 left before halftime. Amboy tried to take the lead when it went for the two-point conversion, but the pass was incomplete. The 10-play, 84-yard scoring drive was aided by two 15-yard penalties on the Broncos – one for a late hit and the other for pass interference.
The first half ended with each team intercepting a pass – Jake George picking one off for Orangeville and Lindenmeyer atoning for his interception on offense by swiping a Rote pass from his defensive back position.