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Clendenen, defense leads Cubans over Pointers
CC FB Reuter run
Cuba City running back Mason Reuter (#23) takes a handoff from Cubans quarterback Andy Clendenen during Fridays game against Mineral Point. Clendenen threw for 230 yards and four touchdowns, and combined with Reuter to rush for 130 yards as the Cubans rolled up 400 yards of total yards en route to a 36-7 victory over the Pointers. The win clinched at least a share of the SWAL title for the Cubans this season. - photo by Thomas Gunnell

MINERAL POINT – Cuba City’s fifth straight victory has the Cubans on the verge of their first outright SWAL football title since 2012.

Junior quarterback Andy Clendenen tossed four touchdown passes and ran for another score as the Cubans (5-2 overall, 5-0 SWAL) locked up at least a share of the conference championship with an impressive 36-7 victory over the host Mineral Point Pointers (5-2, 3-1) on Friday, Sept. 29.

“On offense, the quarterback should always be the leader. Andy did this Friday and you could see in the execution of plays it really paid off,” said Cuba City head coach Guy Kopp. “I feel we are very well balanced on offense. We have playmakers at every position, and you could really see that against Mineral Point.  I felt our play calling really helped our players to be in great positions to succeed.”

The Cubans (5-2 overall, 5-0 SWAL) not only spoiled the Pointers’ Homecoming celebration with the convincing victory, but also put a damper on the Pointers’ hopes of earning their first SWAL title since 1991 as the two teams entered the night with unbeaten league records but only the Cubans left the field that way.

The Cubans’ defense set the tone early on by stopping the Pointers on downs on 4th-and-2 on their opening possession. The Pointers didn’t not make it into the red zone once in the first half, and the hosts got into scoring position just once in the second half taking advantage of a short field following a blocked punt.

“On the defensive side of the ball, I feel our kids are hungry. They are feeding off each other. I really have been impressed with how fast they are playing and how they all are doing their own job,” added Kopp. “They set goals each week and they have been obtaining them the past five weeks. When you can do that, good things happen.”

Clendenen got the Cubans rolling by hooking up with senior Ryan Hoppenjan on touchdown passes of 45 and 25 yards in the first quarter to build up an early 14-0 advantage.

A 10-yard touchdown run by Clendenen in the second quarter extended the lead to 21-0 by the intermission, and the junior signal caller tossed a 50-yard scoring strike to senior Mason Erschen in the third quarter to make it 28-0 and connected with Hoppenjan for a third time on a 20-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.

Just for good measure, the Cubans’ defense got into the scoring act with a safety inthe final minute of the fourth quarter.

The Pointers’ lone score came after Grant Sporles’ blocked punt late in the third quarter when sophomore quarterback Isaac Lindsey connected with Caden Jackson on a 5-yard score to avoid the shutout.

The Cubans finished the game with 400 yards of total offense behind Clendenen, who completed 8-of-11 passes for 230 yard and four touchdowns while rushing 17 times for 59 yards and another score.

Hoppenjan hauled in five catches for 112 yards and three TDs and he ran four times for 24 yards, while Erschen had two catches for 84 yards and a TD and ran once for 23 yards.

unior Mason Reuter led the Cubans’ ground attack with 61 yards on 13 carries, and junior Brayden Holzemer added one catch for 34 yards in the win.

Lindsey threw for 135 yards and a TD on 11-of-20 passing to lead the Pointers. Running back Riley Workman ran for just 30 yards on nine carries as the Cubans’ D held the Pointers to 46 yards rushing on 25 carries (1.84 ypc.).

“Overall, it is our offense, defense and special teams working together for the same goal– win the game,” commented Kopp.

Cuba City will take a break from SWAL competition this week. The Cubans will host Belleville (5-2) in a non-conference game at home on Friday, Oct. 6. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Cuba City……….. 14  7  7  8 – 36
Mineral Point……   0  0  7  0 –   7
CC – Ryan Hoppenjan, 45 pass from Andy Clendenen (Kaleb Polzin kick)
CC – Hoppenjan, 25 pass from Clendenen (Polzin kick)
CC – Clendenen, 10 run (Polzin kick)
CC – Mason Erschen, 50 pass from Clendenen (Polzin kick)
MP – Jackson, 5 pass from Lindsey (Cox kick)
CC – Hoppenjan, 20 pass from Clendenen (kick failed)
CC – Safety

Team Stats: First Downs– CC 11, MP 8. Rushing– CC 41-170; MP 25-46. Passing– CC 8-12-1, 230; MP 11-20-0, 135. Fumbles-Lost– CC 2-0; MP 3-1. Penalties- CC 3-20; MP 5-52.
CC Individual Leaders: Rushing (Att-Yds-Td)– Mason Reuter, 13-61-0; Andy Clendenen, 17-59-1. Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Td-Yds)–  Clendenen, 8-11-1-4, 230. Receiving (Cat-Yds-Td)– Ryan Hoppenjan, 5-112-3; Mason Erschen, 2-84-1.