Pioneers survive Hornet ambush, 24-7

By Ben Murhpy
Photo By Kim Langlois

Clare got an unexpected challenge against Harrison Friday night. However, thanks to two late scores the Pioneers celebrated a 24-7 homecoming football win.

“We didn’t execute offensively buy our defense kept us on top during the night,” Clare head coach Kelly Luplow said of the win that keeps his team tied atop the Jack Pine Conference with Meridian. “We need to be more consistent with our offense and finish off our drives. We are allowing teams to hang around and that could come back to haunt us at some point.”

Harrison scored first on the night, getting a three yard touchdown run by Jacob Stuhr and an extra point by Cody Rodgers to go up 7-0 early.

Clare’s Zack Tyler answered with a 31 yard touchdown run later on in the frame, though after a missed extra point the Hornets still led 7-6 after the first.

Tyler ran in from one yard out in the second quarter to give Clare a 12-7 halftime lead, where the score remained until the Pioneers added two fourth quarter touchdowns.

Colton Punches scored on a 13 yard pass from Tyler to put Clare up 18-7 and the Pioneers rounded out the scoring with a one yard quarterback keeper to make it 24-7.

Clare turned the ball over four times, yet the Hornets couldn’t pick up their second win of the year.

“We played very well and hard,” Harrison head coach Mike Petrongelli said. “We never gave up and kept attacking. We caused several turnovers, we just couldn’t capitalize.”

Clare was led offensively by Tyler, running 17 times for 127 yards and three scores and also completed five-of-nine passes for 135 yards and one touchdown.

Spencer Harrell added 101 yards on 23 carries and James Simon had 10 carries for 50 yards.

Punches had two catches for 65 yards and one touchdown.

The Pioneer defense was led by Mitch Greenacre had 11 tackles, Joe McGuire had 10, Harrell had nine, Taylor Meixner had eight and Anthony Whitehead had seven.

Harrison was led by Jake Walraven with 10 carries and 22 yards, Rodgers had 20 yards on seven carries and Ryan Johnson ran three times for 19 yards.

Stuhr completed three-of-12 passes for 50 yards and two interceptions, Randy Johnson had one catch for 33 yards.

Ryan Hubbard had 10 tackles to lead Harrison’s defensive unit, Justin Yager had nine tackles and one fumble recovery, Nathan Lipovsky had seven and Johnson had six.

Clare (4-2 overall, 4-0 JPC) plays at Roscommon (4-2, 3-1) on Friday. The Bucks topped Houghton Lake 41-6 last week though Clare has won the last five meetings between the squads.

“They are much improved over last year and have some quality athletes on the field,” Luplow said. “We will have to play a lot better than last week if we are going to have a chance against them. It’s a big game for both programs.”

Harrison (1-5 overall, 1-3 JPC) hosts Houghton Lake (0-6, 0-4) on Friday. The Bobcats are coming off a 41-6 loss to Roscommon last week. However, Houghton Lake won last year’s meeting with the Hornets 28-7.

“They are improving and have several talented players,” Petrongelli said of the Bobcats. “We will have to play well and not make mistakes.”

Luplow noted Roscommon is 4-2 , the same as us.  They are much improved over last year and have some quality athletes on the field.  We will have to play a lot better than last week if we are going to have a chance against them.  It’s a big game for both programs.