FLORENCE — Following a tough loss to Buffalo in the district opener last week, Levi Martin and Florence found some redemption Friday night, topping the Clifton Cubs 39-30 at Stampede Stadium.

Martin scored on a pair of punt returns, including one for 90 yards, and the Buffaloes (4-2) snapped a 17-game district losing streak and improved to 1-1 in District 13-3A-D2.

Florence’s last district win was Oct. 27, 2017, at Comfort (22-21).

On Friday, after establishing the running game toward the end of the second quarter, the Buffaloes made good adjustments at halftime and came out more aggressive on both sides of the ball. Stellar defensive play from junior defensive back Matthew Harris, junior linebacker Zane Shepard, and senior defensive lineman Angel Maldonado stopped the Cubs on their opening drive of the third quarter.

Clifton chewed up almost nine minutes on their first possession but it hardly mattered. Florence junior running back Martin notched his second touchdown of the night with a 90-yard punt return to give the Buffaloes a 26-22 lead.

Three minutes later, senior defensive lineman Angel Maldonado delivered a sack of Clifton senior quarterback Robert Goodman and recovered the fumble to put Florence in control at midfield. Quarterback Victor Bonilla ducked and dodged his way for 25 yards and set up an 8-yard give-and-go to junior running back Zack Webb.

Five minutes into the fourth quarter, Florence took a commanding 33 -22 lead.

Supported by excellent defensive play from Harris, which included a game-ending interception, Martin ended the night with three touchdowns.

The Buffaloes travel to top-ranked Franklin next Friday.

In search of its first win of the season, Clifton came out aggressive in the first half and quarterback Robert Goodman leaned heavily on senior running back Will Simmons and sophomore running back Riley Finney. Running back Jaden Simmons gave the Cubs their first trip to the red zone with a 20-yard run down the sideline, setting up Finney for a 3-yard trot into the end zone. A successful two-point conversion put Clifton up 8-0 with six minutes left in the first quarter.

After recovering a fumble and forcing a turnover on downs, Clifton was back in business on the Florence 40-yard line with 1:45 left in the first quarter. Despite excellent defensive play from Florence junior linebacker Sam Whitson, senior Rowdy Lilley and junior Ryland Carlile, Simmons was unstoppable and quickly put the Cubs on top 14-0.

On their fourth possession, the Buffaloes finally came to life thanks to a 35-five yard punt return by Martin. Bonilla connected with Martin two plays later on a slant route, then kept the ball for a Florence touchdown and again for the two-point conversion. The Buffaloes were on the board, trailing 14-8 with 8:30 left in the half.

Shepard and Harris helped force a turnover on downs and set up a 55-yard punt return by Martin for the Buffaloes’ second touchdown. With another two-point conversion, Florence took its first lead of the night 16-14.

With only 30 seconds remaining in the half, running back Riley Finney gave Clifton its third trip to the end zone.

Seconds later, Bonilla and Martin teamed up again to put the Buffaloes in good field goal position. Senior Jordan Block split the uprights from 30 yards out and trimmed Clifton’s lead to 22-19 as time ran out.

DISTRICT 13-3A-D2

Franklin 3-0

Rogers 2-1

Buffalo 1-1

Florence 1-1

Lexington 1-1

Riesel 1-2

Clifton 0-3

FRIDAY'S GAMES

  • Florence 39, Clifton 30
  • No. 1 Franklin 56, Rogers 7
  • Lexington 69, Riesel 24
  • BYE: Buffalo

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