DES MOINES — Saydel broke in its brand new football stadium here Friday with a 26-15 win over Clarke in rainy conditions.
After the two teams exchanged punts on their first drives, Clarke struck first with an 81-yard touchdown drive.
Junior Morales took the first play of the drive 81 yards for a touchdown on a pitchout around the right side, but the play was called back because of a holding penalty.
Facing a third-and-12, quarterback Rich Wilkins found Reed Kale across the middle for a gain of 56 yards, all the way down to the Saydel 14 yard line.
The Indians quickly found themselves in another third-and-long situation, but Wilkins found Kale wide open across the middle in the end zone for a touchdown. Ali Aly’s kick made it 7-0 Clarke with 3:02 to go in the first quarter.
But that’s when momentum began to shift toward Saydel.
“In the beginning of the game, we had a lot of time to throw the ball and we threw the ball well early,” Clarke head coach Michael Kline said. “And then they started sending blitzers like there’s no tomorrow. Our line play got a little tired and we didn’t pick them up like we needed to.”
After the Clarke defense forced a three-and-out, Saydel punted from its own 33 yard line.
In a key play, the Eagles downed the punt at the Clarke 1 yard line for a 66 yard punt.
On the first play of Clarke’s ensuing drive, Wilkins was picked off by Saydel senior Clayton Sommers at the 17 yard line.
Four plays later, Sommers ran around the right side for a 7-yard touchdown. A Grant Sherman 2-point conversion made the score 8-7 Saydel with :46 left in the first quarter.
After a Clarke three-and-out, Saydel took over on its own 28 yard line. The Eagles would chew up five minutes of game clock with their only sustained drive of the game, going 72 yards for a touchdown.
Clarke forced a fourth-and-14 from the Saydel 15 yard line, but the Eagles converted the fourth down into a touchdown when Sommers threaded a pass through two Clarke defenders to Justin Carr for a touchdown, making it 14-8.
That’s when the rain began to fall.
Neither team could get anything going in the third quarter until Devin Porter recovered a Clarke fumble at the Indian 3 yard line with 5:59 remaining in the quarter. Sommers quickly punched the ball into the end zone, making it 20-7 in favor of the Eagles.
With 11:55 left in the game, Dylan Coffin recovered a fumble on the Clarke 10 yard line. Less than a minute later, Sommers found Carr in the end zone on a rollout to put the Eagles up 26-7 with 11:20 to go in the game.
“I thought our effort was there tonight, but we turned the ball over five times,” Kline said. “Three of them inside our 20 yard line. When you give them that short of a field, they’re going to score points and that’s what they did. It ended up being an 11 point game, and there’s 20 points right there. There effort was there, just the discipline and the ball security was not.”
Clarke scored in the final minute of the game to make the score 26-15.
A 60-yard reception by Dustan Van Loon on a contested ball set up a 21-yard touchdown run by Morales with :23 left. Gordon Witt ran in the 2-point conversion.
“Offensively, our receivers went up and caught a couple of passes that were contested balls,” Kline said. “Went up and got them. That’s a good thing.”
One of the keys to Clarke’s success this season, according to Kline, was going to be his team’s ability to stop the run.
For the most part on Friday, the Indians were able to contain the Saydel rushing attack.
The Eagles finished the game with 104 rushing yards on 30 carries, most of which came on the team’s 72-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter.
“Our defense looked phenomenal tonight, I thought,” Kline said. “We always talk about having to stop the run and we stopped the run tonight. I thought we did a good job there. Our defense gave a lot of good effort. Our offense put it in a lot of bad positions and they played hard. The effort was there tonight. The guys played like warriors. We only played maybe 14 guys tonight and they played hard. We just have to be more disciplined than we were tonight.”
In total, the Clarke defense held Saydel to just 175 yards of total offense. Sommers did the most damage, with 60 yards passing on 7-of-14 passing and 74 yards rushing on 15 carries. Sommers accounted for all four Saydel touchdowns.
Clarke returns to action on Friday at Colfax-Mingo, which was a 21-0 winner over Pleasantville in its season opener on Friday.
The Tigerhawks featured a balanced offensive attack in that game, passing for 214 yards on 22-of-34 passing and rushing for 168 yards on 33 attempts.
“They’re going to throw the ball around and hopefully we’ll be ready defensively,” Kline said. “Offensively, we just need to shore up what we want to do and hold onto that football. I’m really proud of our effort. I thought we stuck together well as a team. It was just the discipline. We can’t dwell on it, we just have to move forward as a team and get better.”
Stats for Clarke from Friday were unavailable at press time.