Hornets Sting Pioneers in Playoff Opener

November 11, 2019

Harrison’s Gavin Lawrence takes the hand-off. Photo by Jayce Jordan
Clare’s Shane Jenkins drops back to pass as Colt Smedley looks to make a block. Photo by Jayce Jordan
Clare’s Bo Weldon outruns a Harrison defender during Friday’s playoff opener.
Photo by Jayce Jordan

by Ben Murphy
Sports Writer

Not only did Harrison upset Clare in the two team’s division six playoff opener Friday night, the visiting Hornets did so in convincing fashion. The Hornets scored three first half touchdowns and used several big running plays to pick up a convincing 38-6 victory over the Pioneers.

“It was an exciting night, our kids were pumped up and ready to play,” Harrison head coach Jamie Lipovsky said. “I couldn’t have asked for them to play a harder game than what they played and that goes all the way around to the scout team getting them ready. They did a great job of simulating Clare’s defense and the same for their offense. They did really well and I was proud of all the kids all the way around.”

The two teams also met back in week three, in what was a narrow 42-40 win for Clare. In the contest Harrison fell behind by three scores early on, before making a frantic comeback bid later on. Friday night the Hornets continue that surge to pick up the program’s first playoff win since 1999. Harrison was able to outgain Clare 420 yards to 107.

Clare is a good football team, they were hosting as the top seed and we were the last team in division six to make the playoffs if you look at the point totals,” Lipovsky said. “They had the momentum heading in but we had nothing to lose. We took some gambles and did some things differently offensively and defensively to see if we could gain the upper-hand up front. Once the momentum swung our way it just kind of kept snowballing from there.”

On just the third play of the game, the Harrison offense broke off its first big play of the night, and perhaps setting the tone. Logan Yost took the hand-off from Luke Cooper and blew by the Clare defense for a 64-yard score. Cam Ashcroft tacked on the two-point conversion to make it 8-0 just moments into the contest.

The Hornet defense was able to force a Clare punt on its first possession, setting up Harrison with the ball on its own 24-yard line. The Hornets used a methodical approach on offense this time, needing 14 plays to go the 76 yards. Ashcroft finished off the drive four-yard score. Ashcroft also had the two-pointer to make the score 16-0.

In the second, another long drive led to another four-yard touchdown run, this time using Gavin Lawrence to find pay-dirt. Cooper ran a QB-keeper on the two-pointer to increase the margin to 24-0.

The Hornets continued to pad the lead in the third, as they used a four-yard scoring run by Ashcroft and a two-point pass from Cooper to Colin Dunn to lead 32-0 entering the fourth.

“Our mindset at the half was telling the kids that they had to look at the scoreboard that we were down 24-0 and that we had to continue to push things,” Lipovsky said. “At the end of the third, even though we were up 32-0 I heard one of the kids yell that we were down 32-0 and I thought, OK good, they’re buying into that. Clare is an explosive team, there is a reason they were 8-1, they have good players and are well-coached and we couldn’t have a let-down. The kids made sure that didn’t happen.”

Harrison finished off its scoring with a one-yard plunge by Ashcroft in the fourth quarter.

“I was just very happy with our offensive line, they did a great job,” Lipovsky said. “Anytime you can run for 400 yards in an game against Clare, you have to be happy. Offensive coordinator Matt Cooper called a great game and the kids just performed.”

The Pioneers scored the game’s final touchdown, getting a 38-yard touchdown pass from Shane Jenkins to Al Warner.

The Hornets had Ashcroft run for 152 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries, Lawrence carried 18 times for 104 yards and one touchdown, Yost ran nine times for 101 yards and one score and Cooper 42 yards rushing and completed one pass for 15 yards to Dunn.

Ashcroft also led the defense with four tackles and Luke Gillespie took down three.
Harrison (6-4 overall) heads to Glen Lake (9-1) on Friday. The Lakers are coming off a 30-19 win over Lake City last week.

The Pioneers, who only ran 25 plays on offense, saw Jenkins finish two-of-11 passing for 39 yards and one touchdown. Colt Smedley ran four times for 35 yards and Warner had 22 yards rushing.

Josh Gould led the defense with 13 tackles, with Warner, Jon Bouchey and Gage Beckner getting six tackles each.

Clare finishes the season 8-2 overall and took second place in the Jack Pine Conference.

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