LaGRANGE — Devin Cunningham was determined to make sure this week would be different.
From the Cloverleaf football team’s first offensive play, he did everything he could to make it happen.
Cunningham’s 70-yard run after receiving a lateral pass from quarterback Garrison Flora set the tone as the Colts went on to spoil Keystone’s home opener with a 38-21 non-league victory.
That was just the beginning for the 6-foot, 205-pound senior running back, who finished with 216 yards total offense, 196 of which came on the ground. He also found the end zone three times.
“We came out strong right out of the locker room just like we wanted to do,” Cunningham said. “All week we were talking it up in practice because we knew how important this game was. We needed to come out and get a win.”
The Colts defense intercepted two of the first three passes out of the hand of Marcus Gunter, with Matt Vespucci returning the second one 40 yards for a touchdown with 7:21 to play in the first quarter. Kyle Sasinka’s PAT made the score 14-0 before Keystone had its first first down.
The Wildcats (1-1) took advantage of a pair of miscues by Cloverleaf (1-1) on consecutive kickoffs to set up scoring drives that enabled them to tie the score at 14 by the end of the first quarter.
The Colts quickly answered, with quarterback Garrison Flora connecting with Austin Smith on a long touchdown pass and Sasinka kicking a 22-yard field goal with 48 seconds left in the half to put the Colts up 24-21.
“We did a lot of good things tonight,” Cloverleaf coach Bob Lake said. “We made some mistakes, but we battled through them. We shut them out in the second half, which was big for us. Keystone has some good football players, so I was really proud of how our team responded to the challenge.”
In the second half, Cloverleaf turned to ball control, pounding out a 12-play drive and a pair of eight-play drives. It extended the lead to 31-21 when Vespucci used his 6-foot-3 frame to reach up and pull down a 29-yard touchdown pass from Flora.
Cunningham put an exclamation point on the win with a 23-yard TD run on fourth-and-1 to close the scoring.
“It was great that we could start off strong,” Vespucci said. “It feels a lot better than last week. We came out focused and we scored early. We just got so much more pumped up and fed off that momentum.”
Keystone was led by senior running back Tyler Gullett, who ran for a touchdown, caught another and had 146 yards from scrimmage.
Contact Todd Shapiro at email@example.com.
Cloverleaf 38, Keystone 21
CLOVERLEAF 14 10 7 7 — 38
KEYSTONE 14 7 0 0 — 21
C — Devin Cunningham 70 run (Kyle Sasinka kick), 10:28.
C — Matt Vespucci 40 interception return (Sasinka kick), 7:21.
K — Tyler Gullett 9 run (Turner Giesel kick), 3:15.
K — Tyler Polen 24 run (Giesel kick), 1:05.
C — Cunningham 26 pass from Garrison Flora (Sasinka kick), 10:48.
K — Gullett 45 pass from Szalai (Giesel kick), 8:24.
C — Sasinka 22 field goal, 0:31.
C — Vespucci 29 pass from Flora (Sasinka kick), 7:17.
C — Cunningham 23 run (Sasinka kick), 0:48.
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