Clare Survives McBain in Season Finale

November 4, 2019

Clare’s Colt Smedley takes a hand off. Photo by Shannon Zinser.
Clare quarterback Shane Jenkins tosses a pass down field during Friday’s win over McBain. Photo by Shannon Zinser

by Ben Murphy
Sports Writer

A pair of playoff teams met in a week nine thriller Friday night. Clare, finishing up its regular season in McBain, was able to score a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to get the lead and survived a Rambler rally to pick up a hard-fought non-conference win, 32-28.

“We knew they would be a tough team,” head coach Kelly Luplow said.” They are one of the most physical teams we have played this year, they really brought the pads and came after us. We knew we had to match that. They were bigger than us up front but our kids played well.”

The McBain defense made a big play in the opening quarter, hauling in an interception and returning it 20-yards for a score to take a 6-0 lead after one.

The Pioneers swung ahead early in the second quarter thanks to a 10-yard touchdown pass from Shane Jenkins to Josh Gould, with Alec Hoffman booting home the extra point to make it 7-6.

McBain responded with a big 45-yard passing touchdown to pull back ahead at 14-7. The Pioneers managed a score before the half, getting Jenkins to work his way in from two yards out, though a failed extra point left them behind 14-13 at the break.

Clare regained the lead in the third, as Jenkins found Drew Schuster for a 36-yard strike, with a Hoffman extra point boot making it 20-14.

The Ramblers wouldn’t go away however, as before the third quarter came to a close, they scored on a 15-yard run and added a two-point conversion to stake themselves to a 22-20 advantage.

“When things weren’t going our way, the kids never quit,” Luplow said. “That was the whole difference in the game. It was a physical game but when we got hit in the mouth we never quit, we came right back and kept playing. They never thought once about quitting, they just kept playing hard no matter what and that allowed us to make some plays. It has been a nice year as far as that goes; these guys just keep playing hard every week.”

The Pioneers were able to score back-to-back touchdowns in a key stretch of the game. First, they had an offensive strike in the form of a 14-yard touchdown pass from Jenkins to Jacob Recker, putting them ahead 26-22. Then, Clare was able to add a late pick-six from Al Warner, who hauled in the errant pass deep in McBain’s own end and returned it 10-yards for the score to make it 32-22 with under a minute to play.

McBain was able to score quickly on its ensuing possession, but failed to recover an onside kick attempt, allowing Clare to run out the clock.

“Our defense once again played extremely well, they keep getting better every week,” Luplow said. “The defense stepped up when we had to have it. The pick-six by Warner, that was huge to put us up by 10. The defense made a play and when you get one like that, that’s just huge.”

Jenkins finished his busy night throwing the ball 19-of-27 for 238 yards, three touchdowns and one interception and he also added 14 yards and a score on the ground. Colt Smedley led the ground game with 86 yards on 28 attempts. Gould finished with four receptions for 72 yards, Schuster hauled in five catches for 71 yards and a score, Warner had five catches for 43 yards and Jon Bouchey had three grabs for 30 yards.

Gould led the defense with eight combined tackles, with Bouchey and Schuster adding seven apiece. Jenkins had two interceptions to go along with four tackles, Warner had the pick-six and Gould also had an interception.

Clare (8-1 overall) hosts Harrison (5-4) tonight (Friday) in both teams’ division six playoff opener. Clare defeated the 42-40 Hornets back in week three.

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