Clarke football traveled to Knoxville last Friday looking to come back from their week one loss against Atlantic.
The Indians did just that, scoring one point more than the Panthers 41-40 in overtime play, after trailing behind for the first time all game late in the fourth quarter.
Knoxville received the ball to start the game, and attempted to make their way down the field before being forced to punt on lack of a first down. Clarke took over at Knoxville’s 20, driving the ball back to the end zone on a series of passes from Jack Cooley to Brock Watson and Shay Mathews.
Mathews made it across the goal line, however a flag on the play moved the Indians back to the five-yard line to try again. This time a pass to Brock Nall proved good, and a successful kick from Oscar Castro put the first seven points on the board for the Indians.
Knoxville’s Connor Willis received the kickoff deep down field, driving up to the 22-yard line to start the first of many plays, as Panther offense found their way through Indian defense.
On a 4 and 2 with just under two minutes left in the first quarter, Knoxville quarterback Noah Keefer’s pass to Hayden Willoughby found its mark, and a kick attempt for the extra point brought the game to 7-7.
With Clarke making their way back over the 50-yard line, time ran out on the clock for the first quarter with Clarke on 2nd and 7.
Starting at the Knoxville 43-yard line, Cooley made a 31-yard pass to Jesus Vega for a first down. A hand-off to Mathews who pushed his way through tackles wasn’t quite enough, but a flag on Knoxville for face mask hold brought Clarke to 1st and goal.
Cooley kept the ball and ran inside, extending his arms, but not quite far enough to cross the goal line, being brought down at the 1-yard line. Cooley handed the ball off to Nall, who ran in for the touchdown, and Castro kicked for the extra point, doubling the Indian’s score to 14-7.
An offside flag on Clarke at the kickoff moved them back further for the kick, with Knoxville fielding the ball at their 10, carried by Willoughby. Willoughby fumbled the ball near the 42-yard line, and it was recovered by Clarke’s Eli Fry.
Clarke attempted to run the ball back for another goal, but had to turn the ball over on lack of downs, with Knoxville picking up play at their 36.
A long run by Koby Higginbotham just out of reach of Vega earned another Panther touchdown. A low snap on a kick left Knoxville trailing by one point.
Watson received for Clarke, charing up the field to the 28, as the Indians searched for a first down. On 3rd and 10, Cooley looked to pass to Watson, but the ball was intercepted by a Knoxville defender. Knoxville tried their hand at getting a first down, but were unable to do so and had to punt the ball.
Another turnover to Knoxville then back to Clarke found the Indians in possession with less than a minute left in the half.
Clarke offense drove the ball about 51 yards down the field, with a pass to Vega for another touchdown. A kick attempt by Castro found Cooley having to roll out from Knoxville and pass to Watson, whose feet came down out of bounds to leave the score at 20-13 going into halftime.
Back from halftime, a Clarke pass was intercepted by Higginbotham, turning the game over again.
The Indians were able to hold the Panthers at bay from getting a touchdown, taking over at their own 6-yard line. Pressure and flags on Clarke and an interception by Knoxville’s Jay Kellar had Clarke give up the ball at the 7-yard line. Willoughby went in for a touchdown, and a subsequent kick tied the score again at 20-20.
Nall received the ball for Clarke, and lost hold as he ran up the field, where it was recovered by Max Magana. With Knoxville unable to get a first down, Clarke took possession and found similar trouble, with Castro forced to punt as the third quarter ran out.
With Knoxville in possession starting the last quarter, Castro picked a throw from Keefer, starting Clarke at the Panther 47. Drake Moore came in for the touchdown this time, followed by a Castro kick to put Clarke seven points ahead, 27-20.
Castro kicked a touch back to Knoxville, and after a series of plays, Knoxville made another touchdown with extra point with five minutes left to play to tie the game again.
Clarke tried to widen the gap, but were forced to punt. With one minute of play left, Knoxville took the lead for the first time 34-27.
Moore picked up the reception kick for Clarke, running up the sidelines to get near the 45. Another pass from Cooley was nearly intercepted, but was missed and the pass fell incomplete. On 2nd and 10, Cooley passed to Vega, who caught the ball at the Panther 37.
A pass to Watson found him reaching between two Panther defenders, with 16 seconds left on the clock. A pass to Vega who was brought down forced Clarke to use their remaining time-out.
Another pass attempt to Vega in the end zone was just out of reach, leaving Clarke 3rd and goal from the 8-yard line.
Coming back from a Knoxville timeout, Cooley looked to pass the ball but kept it, running in for a touchdown with less than one-second left on the clock.
Clarke went in for the kick to tie the game at 34-34 with no time left on the clock, sending the game into overtime.
In high school football, each team has a chance to make a play from the 10-yard line. Knoxville had the first go, with Willoughby sent in for a touchdown right away. Willis came in to kick for the extra point, but a deflection from Castro kept the ball from finding its goal to bring the score to 40-34.
On Clarke’s turn the 10-yard line, Cooley passed to Watson in the back corner of the end zone, who caught it for an Indian touchdown to tie the game again at 40-40. A kick from Castro earned the extra point for Clarke, ending the game.
In a post-game interview with GoSCCTV’s Dewayne Cook, Indian head coach Sean Quinlan told Cook that the game was one of the best he’d seen, and it was something to both be a part of and watch it unfold.
“[I’m] so proud of our kids…[we] have to win the close games, and tonight we did,” said Quinlan.
Clarke hosts Des Moines Christian (0-2) this Friday for Hero’s Night, starting at 7 p.m.
Individual stats not available at press time.