SHEFFIELD TWP. — Dustyn Smith picked the right night to have his best game.
The Clearview senior wide receiver and defensive back caught a pair of wide-open touchdown passes to lead the Clippers to a 30-16 win over Marengo Highland in a Division IV playoff opener Saturday night at Tom Hoch Field.
It was Clearview’s first playoff win since 2003 when the Clippers beat Defiance Tinora 14-6 at Patrick Henry High School.
The Clippers had lost their last four playoff games.
“The coaches trust me,” Smith said. “They knew they could use me anyway they could. I’m just glad that these guys trust in me. I believe I’m the best receiver all-around and no one can guard me.”
Twice quarterback Chase Christensen found Smith open on a slant pattern and Smith’s speed turned both into huge touchdowns. Smith came into Saturday’s playoff game with pretty modest receiving marks, having caught only 10 passes for 208 yards and one touchdown. Saturday he caught three for 125 yards.
Clearview (10-1) advances to meet its nemesis from a year ago when it tangles with top-seed Clear Fork at a destination to be announced today. Clear Fork (11-0) defeated the Clippers 44-0 a year ago in the first round.
Saturday didn’t start out well for Clearview. Highland’s speedy returner Brock Veley broke loose down the sideline for a 57-yard return on the opening kickoff to set up the Fighting Scots at Clearview’s 18-yard line. They punched it in four plays later and added a 2-point conversion for a quick 8-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
“We knew it would be a battle,” Smith said. “We stuck to it (the game plan) and by the end we’d come out with the W.”
The Clippers answered that score with a 15-play, 59-yard methodical drive capped by senior David Renftle’s short run on third down. Renftle, who just refuses to go down near the goal line, plowed in for the 2-point conversion to tie the game with 8:46 left in the half. The Clippers had to overcome a holding penalty that negated a 22-yard run by Drew Engle.
“I spend a lot of time in the weight room,” Renftle said. “I’m not going to let no one stop me when I’m that close. They call my name when we’re that close and I’m going to use that opportunity and just score.”
Highland scored again and added another 2-point conversion after a blocked punt with 4:16 to play but Clearview refused to fold.
“That’s been a big part of this team,” Clearview coach Mike Collier said. “They just have resilience — mental and physical toughness. We’ve been in that situation this year. Up and down, early on, but we say we’re going to be fine. These kids have our motto of being all in.”
Enter Smith. On a second-and-short, Christensen threw a perfect slant pass to Smith, who simply outran the defense to pull the Clippers to within 16-14 with 3:27 left in the half.
“We use our athletes to our advantage,” Christensen said. “Just mixing up the play calls and those slants are wide open.”
Clearview’s defense was outstanding all night but its special teams turned the game around when sophomore Mason Argenti covered the ensuing kickoff at the Highland 33. Once again it was Renftle that carried at least two Highland defenders into the end zone with him to give Clearview a 22-16 lead after Smith caught Christensen’s pass in the corner of the end zone for the 2-point conversion.
“They were too weak,” Renftle said with a smile. “They need to get in the gym more.”
“He’s an animal,” Collier said. “He’s just fun to watch — defensively, offensively.”
Clearview never trailed again as its defense stood tall against the triple threat of the Scots. It forced Highland to throw the ball and the secondary came through. The Scots were just 6-of-21 passing and rushed for just 154 yards — less than half of what Highland averaged during the season.
“That’s great considering what a great rush offense they have,” Collier said. “That was the game plan. It was a great job by our defensive front and the secondary responded.”
It had to be a frustrating night for Highland. The Scots had several drives in the second half sputter short of the goal line. Jordan Reed intercepted a pass in the end zone to stop a 17-play drive by Highland that took over six minutes in the third quarter.
Smith broke loose on another slant pattern for the final touchdown of the night. Christensen found Renftle open for the 2-point conversion and the final score.
Clearview was more balanced offensively. The Clippers finished with 330 yards of offense — 190 through the air and another 140 on the ground. Engle led the rushing attack with 87 tough yards. He left the game briefly after being shook up but managed to return.
“(Highland) was a feisty, good team,” Engle said. “I think we executed what we needed to do. Last year, we took a loss. We wanted to avenge that loss and make it to the next round.”
“It’s such a joy to be around these guys,” Collier said. “We get to keep going.”
Clearview 30, Marengo Highland 16
Highland 8 8 0 0 — 16
Clearview 0 22 8 0 — 30
H—Tate Tobin, 3 run (Tobin run)
C—David Renftle, 1 run (Jordan Reed pass from Chase Christensen)
H—Tobin, 3 run (Tobin run)
C—Dustyn Smith, 58 pass from Christensen (run failed)
C—Renftle, 3 run (Smith pass from Christensen)
C—Smith, 37 pass from Christensen (Renftle pass from Christensen)
First downs 13 15
— by rushing 9 8
— by passing 3 6
— by penalty 1 1
Yards rushing 154 140
Yards passing 78 190
Total offense 232 330
Passes att./comp. 21/6 16/9
Intercepted by 1 1
Fumbles/lost 1/1 2/0
Penalties/yards 6/45 10/75
RUSHING—(H) Brody Matthews 15-91, Brock Veley 10-35, Tate Tobin 7-25, Jack Weaver 3-11, Ian Taylor 2-(-8). (C) Drew Engle 23-87, David Renftle 10-37, Fabion Kirkwood 5-19, Jaylen Paschel 1-3, Chase Christensen 3-(-6).
PASSING—(H) Taylor 6-21-78-0-1. (C) Christensen 8-15-168-2-1, Robert Davis 1-1-22-0-0.
RECEIVING—(H) Veley 2-54, Isiah Stoneburner 3-16, Matthews 1-8. (C) Dustyn Smith 3-125, Renftle 3-22, Jordan Reed 2-30, Engle 1-13.
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