Pride blows their lead against Missouri Baptist in only two drives
Even though Taylor Swift wasn’t in attendance, the bleachers were filling up on a sunny Saturday at Dalzell Field. The Clarke University football team took on Missouri Baptist. The team out of the southern Heart of America Conference was 0-4 coming into the game, so the hopes for a second win of the Pride this season were high.
Coach Adam Hicks game plan was clear. Control the ball and drive it really far down the field. Defensively the task was to stop the run, which went well the last games. The special challenge was to stop the Spartans’ big plays that they are known for.
The coin toss was carried out by Men’s Volleyball Head Coach Elle Kosciuk, who was inducted into the Clarke University Athletics Hall of Fame later that day. The Pride received the ball first.
After a slow start in the first quarter, where both teams tried not too risk to much, there was a seemingly fumbled ball picked up by the Clarke defense and returned to the end zone. Later on, that ball was ruled down prior to fumble by the officials.
The second quarter started in dramatic fashion. Clarke’s eight-play, 52-yard drive down the field resulted in a throw to the deep corner of the end zone, where receiver Jackson Ostrander caught the ball on a corner route before stepping on the sideline. The extra point attempt wasn’t good, which meant a 6:0 lead for the Clarke Pride. Shortly after the first touchdown of the game, a second one followed by Missouri to put them up by one, because their PAT-Attempt was successful. But Clarke kept their focus and stayed in the game. After punting the ball away, they stopped Missouri’s drive down the field with an interception by Steele Fredricks, a linebacker for Clarke University. They couldn’t convert that advantage into points, which led to a 7:6 lead for Missouri Baptist at halftime.
The halftime was used to present the four inductees for this year’s Hall of Fame Class, Corrin (Larkin) Cory ’15, Elle Kosciuk `15, David Neis `17 and Breland (Prochaska) Scharschmidt `16. Afterward the Cheer&Dance Team, which supported the Pride all game long, performed a halftime dance.
As the second half began, Clarke came out strong and converted a deep ball into Missouri territory at their 22-yard line. Through play action and runs, they managed to move to 1st&goal at the 4-yard line. It took until the third try, but another corner route and a dart by graduate-quarterback Brandon Mueller had the pride up by 6 again. Missouri answered this touchdown with a fast drive resulting in a field-goal from 31-yards out, putting them 3 points behind Clarke 10:13.
Clarke led going into the 4th quarter, where Missouri showed what they’re capable of. A fast quarterback rush by backup quarterback for the Spartans Cooper Brown, who replaced a struggling starting quarterback in Jordan Simpson. That rush put Missouri back up by 17:13, but there was enough time on the clock. With 4:55 left on the clock, a 61-yard rush touchdown by Missouri sealed the game and left the Clarke Pride in shock. They never found their way back into the game, giving up another touchdown, when they fumbled a punt in their own end zone. That ended the game with 13:31 after a 13:10 lead for Clarke at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Linebacker Steele Fredricks, who had an interception and four important tackles, described the turning point of the game as “good offensive plays [in a short time] by them”, where he referred to the known big play-opportunities Missouri was looking for. He also pointed out that the blocked punt, was a play where Clarke lost their confidence of turning the game around. For the upcoming game against William Penn, Fredricks stated that the defense played very well against the run, but let up a big play which shouldn’t have happened. He praised his defensive line, which “did a really good job of shutting plays down”.
With a record of 1-5, the Clarke Pride must get back to a winning streak, especially now that the conference games are starting. Although leading a long part of the game, the Pride left 24 points unanswered and didn’t find a way back into the game. On the 14th of October, the next game already waits, and Clarke finally wants to set their mark in the Heart of America Conference.