Big first quarter from Clifford, stout defense drive John Glenn to 34-0 victory over New Lexington


Joseph Clifford looks for room on the opening kickoff of the Muskies game against New Lexington. They went on to win, 34-0.

By Nick McWilliams, Sports Director

From the moment the game got under way, fans knew it was going to be one of those nights from Joseph Clifford.

The John Glenn senior wide receiver and defensive back caught a low, line-drive kickoff to start the game and let his feet do the rest. A few nifty moves and solid blocks later, the track-star turned football player danced his way all the way to the New Lexington sideline and across the goal line to get things under way.

For the Muskies, it was a night where plenty went their way from the get go. For the Panthers, it was the opposite.

Clifford scored on the kickoff return, an 83-yard touchdown reception thanks to a forced turnover deep in Muskie territory by the defense and a short zig route to the right-front pylon just before the end of the first. After the game, he was all smiles.

“When they kicked it real low in the middle, I just expected to get it and get what I can,” he said. “But, the middle was a little clogged, so I bounced it out and it opened up as I went.”

New Lexington regrouped following the early opening touchdown for the Muskies, and found success hammering the ball up the middle with junior running back Christian Vance. Vance was a punishing runner all game long, providing much of the Panther offensive firepower.

After reaching the red zone, John Glenn stripped the ball and quickly recovered it, setting up the deep strike from Parker Zachrich. Even after Clifford found the end zone again, the Panthers still showed grit, nabbing three interceptions.

Bobby Kunkler, Seth Burgess and Connar Back all tallied picks for New Lexington, with Kunkler and Burgess earning their turnovers on back-to-back drives.

Holding a 21-0 lead heading into the second quarter, John Glenn picked up two more scores through the air. A 26-yard post route to Reece Perkins and a swing pass the Brady Emerson gave the Muskies all their points for their night.

For coach Matt Edwards, while he was pleased with what he saw on offense, it was defensive pressure that made the difference.

“What got us out of the 1-3 hole? Our defense got us out of that,” he said. “We expected to lean them a little bit early (in the season) having replaced a lot of offensive starters. They may not have played as well coming out of the game as we expected but the last five weeks, you can’t argue (with the results.)”

With the loss, the Panthers fall to 4-5 on the year. John Glenn, meanwhile, is all but guaranteed a playoff spot, barring any trouble with Crooksville next week.