The Dauphin Clippers football team improved to 2-0 in the Rural Manitoba Football League, with a 23-20 win over the Interlake Thunder, Saturday afternoon in Dauphin.
Joseph Lopez led the offence with 156 yards rushing on five carries, including touchdowns from 56 and 30 yards out.
Scott Gower had 71 yards rushing on 10 carries, while Matt Zurba was one for six passing. He also scored on a two-yard quarterback keeper.
Jake Kuzmiak was good on all three converts and the Thunder conceded a safety to account for the rest of Dauphin’s scoring.
Defensively, Oliver Dandeneau led the way with 11 tackles, while Austen Semchyshyn had seven tackles and three assists and Lopez chipped in with eight tackles.
The Clippers built a comfortable lead only to see the Thunder stage a comeback that made things close.
Clippers head coach Jason Zurba said the defence stepped up and were playing well, which led to victory.
“A few penalties gave them the momentum, but (the defence) stepped up when they needed to,” he said.
A close game like this will benefit the Clippers down the road, Zurba said.
“You need to be punched in the mouth every now and then to keep us down at a lower level to move forward. So it’s awesome,” he said.
Playing as a team and not giving up when they were down, Zurba said, were keys to the victory.
The Clippers will hit the road for the first time, this Saturday, when they face the Moosomin Generals in Moosomin at 1 p.m., Manitoba time.
Noting the Generals beat Interlake, 47-44, Sept. 10, Zurba knows the Clippers will be in tough against Moosomin.
“Moosomin is going to be another tough opponent. They’re going to be big and tough and aggressive. So we’re looking forward to it,” he said.
Saturday’s game was the team’s first-ever alumni game, celebrating 50 years of high school football in Dauphin, with alumni in attendance and memorabilia on display.
Clippers manager Cam Bennet was pleased to see a number of former players in attendance, including players from 1961, 1968, 1971 and 1976, as well as the 1980s and 1990s and more recent alumni.
This is actually the 51st year of football in Dauphin, but COVID restrictions prevented the Clippers from celebrating last year.
Bennet would like to make it more of an event in the future in the hopes of getting more alumni to attend.
“If we can get people out and have a great time, why not do it every year? I’m actually thinking of maybe moving it to Thanksgiving weekend, if we can get a home game that day and make an event of that. I’d like to see this event grow and grow. It was a great crowd,” he said, adding the 50-50 was more than $350 which will help the team immensely.