GAME STORY: Miscues prove costly as Merkel drops season opener to Clifton

CISCO — Missed opportunities and missed assignments were the story of the game Thursday for Merkel — and ultimately the reason the Badgers finished on the losing end of a 20-12 score in their season opener against Clifton in a neutral-site matchup at Chesley Field.

Despite being outgained 311-107 and being held to negative rushing yardage, MHS  had chances to take control early and fight back into the game late. But on too many of those occasions, the Badgers saw an ill-timed miscue turn a promising opportunity into a missed one, resulting in a frustrating night for coach Will Kates and his players.

Including a pair of errant snaps that ended potential scoring chances, Merkel went backwards on 13 of its 40 plays, making sustaining drives difficult. And the Badgers’ inability to get Clifton’s run-based offense off the field in a timely manner — the Cubs rushed for 276 yards and had 15 first downs — put Kates’ squad in a tough spot once their counterparts recovered from a slow offensive start.

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