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Defence Dominates As Clippers Advance To Championship Game

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The Dauphin Clippers defence came up big in their semifinal match against the Southwest Sabres, Saturday in Souris.

Led by Matthew Zurba’s nine tackles, one knockdown and one forced fumble, the Clippers limited the Sabres offence to just 12 points in a 25-12 win to advance to the league final.

Damon Nepinak contributed three tackles, two assists, forced one fumble and a fumble recovery and blocked two field goal attempts.

The defence also contributed on the scoreboard as Joseph Lopez and Austen Semchyshyn both returned interceptions for touchdowns, Lopez from 35 yards out and Semchyshyn from 50 yards.

Zurba had 44 yards rushing on 13 carries and Lopez also had a five-yard run for a major.

Scott Gower added a 70-yard TD on a pass from quarterback Thomas Scott.

Dauphin ended the regular season with a pair of wins, giving them confidence heading into the playoffs, according to team manager Cam Bennet.

“We had that close game against Moosomin that we won by one point. And then we were able to win against ParkWest and get some younger guys in and get them some experience, as well. So our confidence was definitely up,” he said. “We knew we had a good chance against Souris and we just took the right attitude an took it to them.”

The Sabres had scored 246 points in the regular season, but that made no difference to Dauphin’s defence.

“We were lucky enough to get some tape of one of their games, so we were very well prepared defensively. Although they ran a lot of trick plays at us, we were able to read them and adjust fairly well,” Bennet said.

“But half our points came from our defence. We had two interceptions for touchdowns, so when you’re defence can score 12 points, that goes a long ways.”

The Clippers’ offence did not get a lot of yardage in the game Bennet added.

Now the Clippers face a daunting task, facing the unbeaten Swan Valley Tigers, Saturday in Swan River.

Swan Valley was 6-0 in the regular season, scoring 348 points while limiting their opposition to just 39.

In the two head-to-head contests, the Tigers scored a 56-7 win in Swan River, Oct. 8, and a 33-2 win, Oct. 15 in Dauphin. They advanced to the final with a 63-12 win over the Neepawa Tigers, Saturday.

Although it appears to be a big mountain for the Clippers to climb, Bennet pointed out the Clippers coaching staff has been in a similar situation before.

“It was actually four years ago just this week that we went to Moosomin in the snow to face the Generals, who were undefeated and were basically ready to party. And we hung around and squeaked out a win. So we’re hoping for magic again,” he said.

Having faced Swan Valley twice this year, Bennet said the Clippers have an idea of what to expect and what they can do.

“We look forward to the game. I think it’s going to be closer than the first game that we played. I think we’re ready to go. We’ve got nothing to lose. We know that this is it. There’s one game left,” he said. “And in football, a couple of plays, a couple of calls one way or the other can mean a big difference. So we’re looking forward to it.”

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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