GROESBECK — The Clifton Cubs finally got a stop on defense, but it came on the final play of the game in a 48-44 loss to Crockett on Friday night in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs.
Crockett scored on seven of 10 possessions — including a crushing 52-yard touchdown pass with 5:34 left in the game — to outlast the surging Cubs, who finished the season 5-7 after winning their first playoff game in 20 years last week.
“That’s what it comes down to,” Clifton coach Chuck Caniford said. “You have to stop them more times than they stop you, and we couldn’t get a stop when we needed it.”
Leading 20-16, Crockett took the opening possession of the second half and drove 57 yards for a touchdown, giving the Bulldogs the all-important two-score lead. From that point, Clifton cut it to a single score four different times, but failed to take the lead in the second half.
In fact, the Cubs never had the ball with the opportunity to take the lead after halftime.
Clifton quarterback Tanner Thomas rushed for 251 yards and three touchdowns, while running back Jaren Brooks added two second-half scores for the Cubs, who matched Crockett touchdown for touchdown after punting on the opening possession of the game.
The Cubs led 16-7 in the first quarter after Luis Enriquez recovered a Crockett fumble and returned it 10 yards to the Bulldog 21 to set up a 14-yard touchdown run by Thomas. Other than the first-half horn, it was the only time the Bulldogs did not score on offense in the game until the final possession.
Crockett scored two second-quarter touchdowns to take the lead at halftime, and added four touchdowns in the second half to keep the pressure on Clifton.
“I thought we missed a couple of opportunities that wound up costing us,” Caniford said. “We didn’t capitalize when we needed to.”
Crockett’s Alphonse Phillips scooped up an onside kick and raced 54 yards for a touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 34-24 lead with 9:34 left in the third quarter.
Clifton answered quickly with a 45-yard touchdown run by Thomas to make it 34-30.
The Cubs came close to forcing a Crockett punt on the ensuing possession, but a face mask penalty turned a 10-yard loss on third and 5 into a first down, and two plays later Bulldog quarterback Case Robinson connected with Lucky Daniels on a 34-yard scoring strike to make it 41-30.
Clifton scored again on a 5-yard run by Brooks to make it 41-38.
Clifton forced a fourth and 15 play on Crockett’s next possession, but the Bulldogs scored on a 52-yard touchdown pass to Phillips to make it 48-38.
Clifton’s final touchdown came with 2:33 left, a 5-yard run by Brooks.