Clare back on track, grounds Meridian

September 27, 2018

by Ben Murphy
Sports Writer

What’s the best way to get over a frustrating loss? Winning, of course. The Clare football team did just that Friday night, as it handled host Meridian in a Jack Pine Conference game, 41-13. This, coming after a loss to Roscommon that Clare led by two possessions in the second half.
“Our kids were ready to play,” head coach Kelly Luplow said. “We had a good week of practice, our kids worked hard and they just had a little more focus than we did the week before. I thought everything went well and that was a lot of the reason for it, just being focused.”

Clare’s Bruin French (no. 72), Tiernan Gallagher (no. 52) and Mike Horbatiuk (no. 70) battle it out with Meridian linemen.

Clare’s Bruin French (no. 72), Tiernan Gallagher (no. 52) and Mike Horbatiuk (no. 70) battle it out with Meridian linemen.

After giving up a season high 46 points to the Bucks in the prior weeks’ loss, the Pioneers shut down the usually potent Mustang offense, holding them scoreless at the half. They did allow a pair of second half touchdowns, but the game was already well in hand at that point.

“I thought the defense played well all night, but keeping them shutout at the half was huge,” Luplow said. “They came in with a whole lot more focus. At some point pride takes over and anyone that has any pride at all isn’t happy about giving up that many points. I thought that was a big statement for us following a game like the week before.”

Kaden Kelly had a big night passing the football, as he hit threw for four touchdowns and ran for another.

Clare’s Nick Roe with room to run after a catch Friday night. 

Clare’s Nick Roe with room to run after a catch Friday night.

In the first quarter he hit Nick Roe and Brenden Sersaw for touchdowns of 19 and 21 yards. He hit Roe for two more scores in the second quarter, finding him for strikes of 12 yards and 24 yards, making it 27-0 at the half.

“Once the game starts you start seeing some things that the other team is doing,” Luplow said of the success through the air. “Plus, you can tell when Kaden is throwing the ball well. You can just tell by the way he handles himself. I thought he showed an awful lot of composure. He stayed in the pocket yet took off running when he had to. He just did all the little things that you have to do to make your team successful.”

In the third, Brenden Sersaw scored Clare’s lone rushing touchdown on a 16-yard jaunt to make it 34-0. The Mustangs scored their first touchdown of the night on a 27 yard run, making it 34-7 entering the fourth.

In the fourth, Kelly plunged in from a yard out to make it 41-7, with the Mustangs tacking on a late score to make the final 41-13.

Kelly finished 19-of-26 passing for 224 yards and four touchdowns and also ran 12 times for 74 yards and a score. Sersaw had a nice night as well, running for 107 yards and a score on 15 attempts and four receptions for 50 yards and a score. Nick Roe had 10 receptions for 138 yards and three touchdowns.

Myles Williamson led the defense with five tackles and with four apiece were Colt Smedley, Shane Jenkins and Josh Gould. Jenkins, Roe and Sersaw had an interception each and Mike Horbatiuk had a fumble recovery.

Clare (4-1 overall, 3-1 JPC) heads to Houghton Lake (1-4, 0-4) tonight (Friday). This will be the Pioneers third straight road game and fifth and final one of the season. The Bobcats, who are departing for the Highland Conference next season are coming off a 37-20 loss to Gladwin last week and are still searching for their first league win.

“We’ve had some good games with them the last few years,” Luplow said. “They are having a tough time but a lot of times, all it takes is one good game or one win to turn things around and they haven’t been that fortunate yet. We learned a lesson against Roscommon that you don’t win a game by just looking at a piece of paper. You have to go out and play the game, especially when you’re on the road. Hopefully we learned a big lesson after that Roscommon fiasco.”

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