MANLIUS – Amboy’s Bailey Appleman knew his team needed a boost going into halftime.
Trailing 13-6 and facing a 3rd-and-5 with no timeouts from the Bureau Valley 20-yard line, the 210-pound fullback took a draw play up the middle, broke the tackle of the Storm’s Frank Gebeck at the 6, and rumbled into the end zone with 25 seconds remaining in the first half.
Although Amboy still trailed by one, the Clippers took that momentum into the second half and outscored the Storm 36-0 en route to a 48-13 victory in Manlius on Friday night.
“We knew we had two plays left for us and we were going to run to the line if we didn’t score on that one,” said Appleman. “That got us momentum going into halftime. It was a big boost for everybody.”
“That was huge, I think that changed the momentum right there,” said Amboy coach Gary Jones. “To score right before the half, it gave us some confidence going into halftime. Anytime you score right before half, it is a huge plus for you.”
Jones said the Storm defense took some things away from his team in the first half, so they made a few blocking adjustments at halftime to get the running game going.
The move paid off, as the Clippers rushed for 245 yards in the second half and used a big third quarter to break the game open.
Amboy scored on all three of its possessions in the third, with quarterback Tyson Powers putting the Clippers ahead for good witha 36-yard option keeper on the second play of the half.
The Clipper defense also improved their play after allowing 111 yards rushing in the first half to BV quarterback Parker Neuhalfen, who started in place of Tyler Barnas. The Clippers constantly got pressure on Neuhalfen, holding him to negative yardage on the ground and sacking him three times after the break.
Amboy also forced a Storm fumble on their first two possessions and got a 2-yard touchdown from Cooper Nelson and a 3-yard score from Appleman off those turnovers.
“The third quarter has been our quarter,” said Jones. “We ran what we wanted to do. I thought we played well in the second half, and I thought BV played well in the first half. The momentum switched.”
Nelson capped a big night on the ground (128 yards rushing) with his third touchdown of the night, a 56-yard run with 10:18 left in the game that put the Clippers up 40-13.
The first half saw Neuhalfen get the home crowd excited with an 80-yard run on the first play of the game. The play was a designed bootleg pass with an option to run. Neuhalfen saw an opening and made a cutback at midfield to get into the end zone.
After Nelson evened the scored with a 10-yard touchdown run, Neuhalfen found the end zone again with a 7-yard run. The sophomore quarterback had 52 yards rushing on the drive and was using his speed to beat the Clippers to the outside.
“Parker played extremely well for his first varsity start at QB,” said Storm coach Jeff Ohlson. “He’s a playmaker. We’re going to have do a better job of getting protection for him.”
With 1 week remaining, both teams are faced with important games to close out the regular season. Amboy (7-1) will need a win against Newman to share the Big Rivers Conference title. Bureau Valley (4-4) will need a win at Morrison to become playoff eligible.