The Clippers turned back Lisbon, 28-15 to remain undefeated.
By JOHN BUTERA
COLUMBIANA -- After turning the ball over on each of their first four possessions, the Columbiana High football team found the range in period two.
The Clippers, the No. 5 team in this week's Associated Press poll of Ohio's Division VI teams, went on to turn back Lisbon, 28-15.
The win extends the Clippers' records to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the Tri-County League. In the computer playoff ratings, Columbiana is No. 1 in Region 21.
Lisbon, the No. 9 team in this week's computer ratings for Div. V Region 17, fell to 5-2, 2-2.
Just four plays into the game, Lisbon's Chalmer Perkins recovered a Clippers fumble, setting up a 43-yard touchdown run by Josh Grafton.
Lisbon was looking for more when Steve Tsilimos came up the first of his two interceptions to give the Devils a first down on the Clippers 35.
Lisbon advanced to a first-and-goal at the 9, but couldn't score.
"I was thinking, 'my oh my,' " Columbiana coach Bob Spaite said of his team's early mistakes. "I mean you can do that against some teams, but not a team the caliber of Lisbon."
In period two, the Clippers had 12 rushes and one pass when Columbiana tried its second throw of the night, again with the same result -- a Tsilimos pick.
After their fourth turnover, Mike Welce, who felt responsible due to three giveaways of his own, stepped up to return an interception 44 yards.
"I knew I had to play better," Welce said. "And we needed to play better as a team. Believe it or not, I knew from then we had to play mistake-free football."
Winters ties it
Welce's play ignited the hosts and soon after Joey Winters tied the game on a 34-yard scoring run. The touchdown was a carbon copy of the Winters score last week against Leetonia.
Columbiana's next possession produced a 10-yard score from Winters as the Clippers went out 14-7 at 2:18 of the half.
With Lisbon in control with less than a minute before intermission, the Clippers turned in the biggest play of the game when at the 42 second mark Welce scored on a 5-yard fumble recovery for a 21-7 score.
"That was a costly mistake," Lisbon coach Jim Tsilimos said.
"But kids make mistakes. Overall, we just made too many of them."
Lisbon's second half didn't get much better as their first four possessions ended on the Clipper 49, their own 49, their own 21 and their own 46. On the night, the teams had nine turnovers.
"We knew what we had to do in the second half," Lisbon captain Chris Page said. "We just didn't do it. Plus that Mike Welce is really hard to stop. He's a heck of a player."
Clippers seal it
Following a Cory Guy interception, Columbiana put the game away, driving 29 yards early in final period. Welce came up with a big 15-yard gain on a fourth-and-10 play and Beau Papania scored from 2 yards out to make the score, 28-7.
On the night, Welce was 23 for 163 yards rushing while Winters added 76 on eight.
Jerrett Welton had two interceptions for the Clippers while Caleb Crowl had a fumble recovery for Lisbon.
The Blue Devils scored late when Grafton rushed in from 22 yards out and Corey Smith added a two-point conversion rush.
"Defensively, we gave up too many third-down plays," Tsilimos. "But I give the kids credit. They hung in there and got that last score."