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Lions Roll Over Defending National Champs
Cleveland dominates West Michigan, 27-7

Lions safety Jerry Adams' voice resonated throughout Bedford Bearcat Stadium Saturday night during pre-game warmups.

"This is our house," Adams screamed. "Nobody beats us in our house!"

He was right.

Adams helped lead the charge as the Lions thoroughly dominated the reigning AAA National Champions and last season's MCFL champion West Michigan Force, 27-7. It was sweet revenge, as the Force ended the Lions season a year ago and handed them their only two losses on the season.

Cleveland (3-2, 2-0 MCFL) looked like a completely different team than the one that stumbled its way to a 1-2 preseason record. The offense was solid and diversified while the defense was, well, its usual self. West Michigan (5-1, 1-1 MCFL) was the victim of a strong Lions' running game and an attacking Lions defense.

After the teams felt each other out during a scoreless first quarter, Cleveland got on the board first following an eight play, 70-yard drive early in the second quarter. Kevin Sitgraves' 1-yard touchdown plunge gave the Lions a 7-0 lead that they would never relinquish.

On the Force's ensuing possession, Adams picked off an errant pass by Force quarterback Phil Butler and returned the ball 28 yards to the West Michigan 13-yard line. Two plays later, Lions' quarterback Albert Wilhelmy found Chip McClain in the right flat off play action and the reigning MCFL Offensive Player of the Year found the endzone from 10-yards out, giving the Lions a 14-0 lead which they would take into the locker room.

The teams traded punts early in the third quarter before the Lions' defense forced another turnover, scooping up a fumble at the Force 22-yard line. After two unsuccesful plays, Wilhelmy tossed his second touchdown of the night, finding a wide open Vernell Jackson in the left corner of the endzone from 29-yards out. Joe Lindway's extra point pushed the Lions' lead to 21-0.

Cleveland closed out the scoring with a 10-play drive that consumed seven minutes of the fourth quarter. Wilhelmy hit McClain from four yards out on the same play as their first touchdown connection. McClain finished his evening as the team's leading receiver, hauling in five passes for 38 yards and two scores.

West Michigan avoided the shutout on their following possession, as Ronnie McCrae bursted 65-yards down the left sideline for a touchdown. But it was too little too late.

Cleveland's reserves ran out the clock and the victory was secure.

The Lions' defense turned in a spectacular performance, forcing four turnovers and limiting a West Michigan offense averaging over 45 points per game to only 183 total yards. Linebacker Dave Schierbaum led the charge with 5.5 tackles and a sack, Adams recorded 4.5 tackles, 1.5 sacks and an interception, and Dwayne LeFall dominated with 4.5 tackles, 3.5 TFL, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and 2.5 sacks.

Cleveland will look to keep its momentum next Saturday night as they travel to the state's capital to take on the Columbus Fire (3-0, 2-0 MCFL).


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