Clare wins battle of JPC unbeatens

By Ben Murphy
Sports Writer

It was only the third game of the Jack Pine Conference schedule, but make no mistake about it; Clare’s 42-14 win in Harrison Friday night was a big one. The Pioneers used big plays on special teams and offense and their shut-down defense to handle the Hornets to keep their league record perfect.

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Clare’s Brenden Sersaw sprints away for a touchdown on a punt return during Friday’s road win.  Photos by Shannon Zinser

“I was happy with the way our guys responded to a good team on their home field,” Clare head coach Kelly Luplow said. “After coming off of three straight home games like we had, that’s not always an easy thing to do. They showed up mentally though and did a good job.”

For Harrison, the night ended in a disappointing loss and was handed its first JPC setback.

“We didn’t play our best game, we got beat in every facet of the game,” Harrison head coach Jamie Lipovsky said. “Clare had a lot of speed and although we knew this was the case, we struggled with it.”

Zac Stickler sacks Joel Coughlin.

Zac Stickler sacks Joel Coughlin.

The Hornets started with the ball, but were forced to punt. The Pioneers sent Brenden Sersaw back to return the kick and he promptly retuned it 65-yards for the game’s opening touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

“Anytime Sersaw touched the ball he’s always a threat,” Luplow said. “He’s probably the most dangerous athlete in the league with the football in his hands. He’s a big time player for us. If you take a chance kicking the ball to him, it’s a big chance. That was a good way to start the game.”

Kolt Lincoln hauls in a kickoff.

Kolt Lincoln hauls in a kickoff.

Clare fumbled the ball away on its next possession, but caught fire in the second period with four scores to take a 35-6 lead at half-time.

Kaden Kelly ran a quarterback keeper for a seven yard score to make it 14-0, Kelly fird a 24-yard pass to Sersaw to make it 20-0 and Tanner Punches hauled in a 37-yard strike from Kelly to make it 26-0 and Zac Stickler bulled into the endzone on the two-point conversion for a 28-0 lead.

Late in the half the Hornets got their offense going, as Hugh Brand earned a hard-fought three yard touchdown, closing the score to 28-6.

Before the second was over, Sersaw added a two-yard touchdown run to make it a commanding 35-6 lead at the break.

Harrison’s Deonate Baldreas with room to run during Friday’s home loss.

Harrison’s Deonate Baldreas with room to run during Friday’s home loss.

Scoring slowed down in the second half, but the Pioneers did get another big play from Tyler Rodenbo, as he ran a jet to the left side of the field and sprinted down 65-yards for a 42-6 touchdown.

The Hornets scored the game’s final touchdown in the fourth, getting Brand to cash in from five yards out.

“I thought we handled them up front,” Luplow said. “I thought we did a good job, our interior line and linebackers did a nice job. Other than a few breakdowns I Thought as a team, we played very well defensively.”

For the Pioneers, Kelly finished the night six-of-13 passing for 157 yards and two touchdowns and he added 79 yards on 12 rushing attempts. Sersaw hauled in three passes for 29 yards, Punches had one grab for 37 yards and Kolt Lincoln had five rushes for 50 yards.

Ryan Pummell led the defense with 17 tackles and Lincoln took down 15.

“We have a lot of different weapons on our team so we may not have one big stat maker,” Luplow said. “That can be kind of deceiving when you look at our stats. When you look at the number of guys involved it’s pretty incredible actually. We ahven’t had this rounded of a team in 10 years or so. It’s a nice problem to have.”
The Hornets were led by Brand who ran 12 times for 100 yards, Gabriel Shellito had four rushes for 37 yards and Joel Coughlin was two-of-five passing for 31 yards.

Defensviely, Harrison had Ryan Carlstrom, Austin Musser and Riley Bennett get six apiece.

Clare (4-1 overall, 3-0 JPC) looks to keep its league record perfect tonight (Friday) when it makes the short trip to Farwell (0-5, 0-3). The Eagles dropped a 23-0 game to Gladwin last week.

“You can’t take a team lightly, there’s too many things that can go wrong,” Luplow said. “They have been struggling but you still have to go out and play the game you are supposed to play. If we do that well be fine. If we go out there with our own agendas it’s going to be a long night. I don’t want them doing that, I want them to go out and play Clare football.”

Harrison (3-2 overall, 2-1) looks to get back in the win column when it heads to Gladwin (1-4, 1-2) tonight.

“It is very important that we bounce back this week,” Lipovsky said. “We are 3-2 and have a lot of ball remaining. We need a big win at Gladwin.”

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