Clare comes back to defeat Harrison in penalty filled match

September 13, 2018

by Ben Murphy
Sports Writer

For the better part of a quarter, Harrison’s ball control full house offense worked to perfection. Host Clare survived a pair of early Hornet touchdowns however, as it erased the early deficit to pick up another convincing Jack Pine Conference win, 42-18.

The Clare football team busts through a banner at the start of Friday’s game.  Photo by Shannon Zinser

The Clare football team busts through a banner at the start of Friday’s game.  Photo by Shannon Zinser

“They came out hitting on all cylinders, that’s for sure,” Clare head coach Kelly Luplow said.

“We were back on our heals and they were pounding the ball at us. They put together (a long and early) drive that was a huge drive for them. We knew their goal going against us was controlling the ball and not letting us have it. The second time they got the ball they did the same thing and put it in again.”

For Harrison, it was a frustrating night that saw an assistant coach and a player, although some say questionably, get ejected. The Hornets also saw their early two possession lead disappear, seemingly in the blink of an eye.

Kaden Kelly leaps through a crowd for extra yardage.  Photo by Bob Guiliani

Kaden Kelly leaps through a crowd for extra yardage. 
Photo by Bob Guiliani

“We never like to lose so obviously I am not happy with the outcome,” Harrison head coach Jamie Lipovsky said. “As crazy as things were getting, I am glad that most of my players kept their composure. Clare is athletic in their skill positions. They do a great job of spacing and it presents major challenges to any defense to defend them. Playing at Clare also makes it tough. They get their crowd behind them and that certainly doesn’t help our cause.”

The Hornets opened the game with a seemingly never-ending drive. It ate up over 10 minutes off the clock and used 20 plays before it got a one yard touchdown plunge by Hugh Brand. A failed two point conversion left it 6-0.

The Pioneers were three-and-out on their first possession, giving the ball back to the Hornets. Harrison was efficient once again, this time using five minutes of time and getting another Brand one yard scoring play to make it 12-0 midway through the second.

“I wasn’t very concerned at 6-0 but when it got to 12-0, I was a little concerned if we would be able to stop them or not,” Luplow said. “I knew we were a big play team though and that we can hit at any time and anywhere on the field. Once we got that first touchdown, it was all us after that.”

Clare showed off just how dangerous of a team it is from there. The Pioneers’ proficiency for big plays popped up on the second play of its ensuing series, as

Clare’s Brenden Sersaw runs for a big gain during  Friday’s win over rival Harrison. Photo by Bob Guiliani

Clare’s Brenden Sersaw runs for a big gain during 
Friday’s win over rival Harrison.
Photo by Bob Guiliani

Kaden Kelly tossed at 62-yard touchdown pass to Nick Roe to pull within 12-7. A quick defensive stop led to a 46-yard touchdown run by Brenden Sersaw on the first play of the possession, for a 14-12 lead and the game was seemingly in Clare’s hands the rest of the way.

“We got a big play and momentum started to change as our kids started to feel better and more confident,” Luplow said. “We knew all along we just needed a big play to light the fire under them a little bit and they got it. It’s a game of momentum and they had it early and we took it over and never lost it.”

Sersaw struck again before the half, this time from 47-yards away to put Clare up 21-12 at the break.

“I liked the way we came out of the gates,” Lipovsky said. “We hit them hard and I think sent an early message that we were not going to go down without a battle. We lost it when things went against us. We need to remember that we can only control the controllable.”

The third quarter saw Kelly hit Colt Smedley for a 41-yard touchdown pass and Sersaw and Kelly added rushing touchdowns of 23 and five yards to make it 42-12 entering the fourth.

Harrison’s Cam Ashcroft runs for tough yardage. Photo by Bob Guiliani

Harrison’s Cam Ashcroft runs for tough yardage.
Photo by Bob Guiliani

The Hornets had the lone touchdown in the fourth quarter, as Luke Cooper tossed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Woolston.

Sersaw had another big night for the Pioneers, running for 123 yards and three scores on eight attempts while Kelly was eight-of-12 passing for 230 yards and two touchdowns. Roe had six grabs for 157 yards and a score.

The Pioneer defense had Myles Williamson lead the way with 18 tackles, Drew Schuster had 16 and Smedley added 12.

“It was just a matter of getting ourselves into the right position,” Luplow said of the defense. “The kids just played more inspired after we scored, and especially after we scored the second touchdown.”

For the Hornets, Brand finished with 110 yards on 28 attempts and Cameron Ashcroft ran 13 times for 85 yards. Cooper was two-of-four passing for 31 yards and a touchdown, completing both passes to Woolston. Kalub Pepper added 26 yards on the ground.

Colin Dunn led the defense with nine tackles and Colton Brand had five tackles.

“Brand and Ashcroft had great games rushing the ball and a lot of that credit goes to the big guys in the trenches, they played well early,” Lipovsky said. “I really

Clare and Harrison players meet at the line and battle for position.  Photo by Shannon Zinser

Clare and Harrison players meet at the line and battle for position.  Photo by Shannon Zinser

feel bad for my player that was ejected because after a close look at the film, he never threw a punch after being blindsided in the pile. Now he has to miss the next contest due to the fact that there is no appeal process through the MHSAA and that is really sad considering what the film shows. But like I told the kids, we are not in control of that and it is time to move on.”

Clare (3-0 overall, 2-0 JPC) heads to Roscommon (2-1, 1-1) tonight (Friday). The Bucks have hit the 40 point mark in two games already this year, including last week’s win over Meridian, 42-34. While the two teams have met annually since 1982 as members of the JPC, it may be the last schedule game between the teams as the Bucks depart for the Highland Conference next season.

“They are a pretty good team,” Luplow said. “They are big up front and they are pretty physical and their backs run hard. We are going to have to be mentally ready for this game because they are going to bring it at us and they’ll be in their comfort zone at home. It’s going to be the last time we play them so I’m sure they’ll want to bring it to us.”

Harrison (1-2, 1-1) looks to get back on track tonight at home against Gladwin (2-1, 1-1). The Flying G’s are coming off a 21-16 win over Farwell last week.
“They throw the ball well so we will have to do a good job of playing keep away, very similar to what we did against Clare in the first half,” Lipovsky said. “Only this time we will need to continue it for four quarters.”

Share This Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *