By Ethan Richards
On Friday, September 2nd 2011, the Clare Pioneers played their home debut against the Beal City Aggies. Beal City, coming off a big upset win off of Division 8 winners Sacred Heart, looked to come up with another big win this week. Clare, winners of the last two Beal City contests, had other plans. Running off the legs of Jackson Gross, the Clare Pioneers pulled out a close victory, by a score of 26-18.
The 1st quarter started with a pair of scoring drives, with Clare’s starting quarterback Brett Luplow capping off the drive, hitting Aaron Haynak in stride. Beal City would respond, on a Stone Beckwith touchdown run. The Aggies would miss the extra point, which would prove to be a big factor in the game. Beal City would go three and out on their next possession, and Clare would capitalize on a Luplow quarterback keeper, extending Clare’s advantage to 8. The Aggies would turn the ball over right before the half, on a Jackson Gross interception. End Of Half score: 14-6 Clare
The second half would start off well for the Aggies, as the ensuing kickoff would be returned 50 yards, all the way to the 45 yard line. Ten plays later, and Beckwith would reach pay dirt for the second time, changing the score to 14-12. Gross, not to be outdone, would respond on the first play from scrimmage, bursting out of the pack and flying by every defender for a 74 yard touchdown. Clare would fail on the one point try, keeping it a one possession game.
At the end of the third and into the beginning of the 4th quarter, Clare marched the ball into Aggies territory. The pioneers would commit one of a few mistakes in the quarter, fumbling the ball near the red zone. Uncharacteristically for the Aggies, they would pass on all three downs, each pass being incomplete. After the punt, things started to get interesting for Clare. The pioneers would start the drive with two straight penalties, moving 15 yards back. Then, Luplow would fumble the snap, and Jackson Gross would get it back, for no gain. On third down, Luplow would be sacked for 9 yards, leaving the total yards loss at 24.
On the following punt, the Aggies would make a beautiful special teams play, blocking and returning it for a touchdown. Missing the two point conversion for the second time, Beal City found themselves in a 20-18 battle. On the next drive, Clare would score on another Jackson Gross touchdown run, making the score 26-18. Beal City would make one more attempt at tying the game, but a Haynak interception would seal the victory/ Final: Clare 26- Beal City 18. Clare (1-1) will play Gladwin (0-2) to start their quest for another Jackpine Conference Championship.