October 04, 2023

Indians start season with hard-fought loss against Atlantic

The Clarke Indians opened their football season at home against the Atlantic Trojans, falling 47-33 after fighting their way back from a 19-point deficit (26-7) going into halftime.


To start the game, the Indians made their way down the field with quarterback Jack Cooley sending passes to Brock Watson, Shay Mathews and Brock Nall as the Indians battled against a series of false starts pushing them further back from the end zone. A 30-yard field goal attempt from kicker Oscar Castro on a fourth down was no good, turning the ball over to the Trojans.

Atlantic scored their first touchdown of the night on a long pass to Kinnick Juhl and a completed kick by Hadin Thompson brought the score to 7-0.

With the ball back in Indian hands, they found themselves faced with another holding call and Cooley struggled to get the ball out of his hands under pressure from Trojan defense. With two incomplete passes going into a third down, Cooley was able to make a pass down to field to Nall to gain a first and 10. From the 48-yard line, a pass to Watson from Cooley saw Watson break his way through two tackle attempts and across the 50. Unable to gain a first in following play, Castro came back in for the punt, but the punt attempt was nullified when Castro’s knee touched the ground.

With the ball back in Atlantic’s possession, Atlantic quarterback Zayden Parker handed the ball off to Dante Hedrington who plowed through the Indian defense before being taken down. A pass to Gavin McLaren brought the ball close to the end zone, as the first quarter ran out with the Trojans at the 6-yard line.


The second quarter started off with an Atlantic touchdown followed by a good kick to widen the score 14-0.

The Indians continued to struggle against false starts and low snaps before a reception by Watson found a touchdown. The touchdown was short lived as calls against both Clarke and Atlantic were called - false start on Clarke and holding on Atlantic - but the Indians found a touchdown that stuck two plays later again courtesy of Watson. A kick from Castro closed the gap to 14-7.

An Atlantic touchdown by McLaren fell short as after breaking through Indian defenses, McLaren was run down and tackled by Cole White at the 1-yard line. A series of false starts on Atlantic backed them up to the 12 before a pass to Colton Rasmussen in the back of the end zone found its mark. A blocked kick moved the Trojans up another six points. An interception by Juhl intended for White had the Trojans back in possession, and after a series of plays, another pass to Rasmussen in the end zone was successful. Atlantic tried for a two-point conversion, but were unsuccessful.

The Indians drove the ball back to the Atlantic 37 with 90 seconds left in the quarter, but an interception by Atlantic’s Nolan Waters intended for Watson had the Trojans taking back over at their own 24-yard line as the clock ran out on the first half.


Atlantic started the third quarter with possession, but were unsuccessful in making it to the goal.

The Indians pushed their way inside the 35, with a flag on the offensive backfield pushing them back to the 42 for first and 20. Cooley ran for the first down, but another flag brought them back to the 49-yard line. Waters attempted another interception from Cooley to Watson, but missed. A blocked pass to Jesus Vega forced the Indians to punt from the 49. The punt from Castro was muffed and recovered by Nall at the 3-yard line. Nall went in for the touchdown, however rules dictated that play stopped when he touched the ball, and Clarke gained possession at the 3. Cooley ran the ball in for a touchdown, and to bring the game to 26-13. A kick attempt by Castro was no good for an extra point.

A touchback by Castro started Atlantic to their own 25, and a series of plays later found a wide-open Rasmussen with a rushing touchdown. A kick moved the score for Atlantic up another seven to 33-13.


Cooley pitched to Mathews, who ran the ball to the 40-yard line, and a late hit called against Atlantic moved Clarke to the 25. In search of a first down, Cooley faked a handoff and ran around Trojan defense for the first down. At the 14-yard line, Cooley passed to Mathews who broke through two tackle attempts for a touchdown that brought the score to 33-19. The Indians attempted a two-point conversion, but the pass was broken up.

An Atlantic fumble on the kickoff reception was recovered by Shawn McAfee near the 24-yard line, turning the game back over to the Indians. Castro ran the ball to the 10, and Watson scored another passing touchdown. Freshman kicker Rafael Avalos made the extra point for a 33-26 score with just over nine minutes left in the game

Atlantic gained another seven points in the next three minutes of game play for Atlantic 40, Clarke 26. Watson picked up the ball for a kickoff return touchdown down the sidelines as he skirted around Atlantic defense, followed by an Indian kick that found its mark to bring the scoreboard to 40-33.

Clarke executed a successful on-side kick, but on further play were unable to get a necessary first down, turning the ball back to Atlantic at the Atlantic 33. After a couple of plays, a long pass from Parker to Xavier Darrow had Darrow in for a touchdown, narrowly missing a tackle by Castro. A good kick brought the score to 47-33.

As the clock ran down, Clarke attempted to get back on the board, but were unable to do so.

Next game

Clarke travels to Knoxville (0-1) this Friday with the game starting at 7:30 p.m.

Game results

Points by quarter

Atl: 7–19–7–14 – 47

Cl: 0–7–6–20 – 33

Individual stats not available at press time.