GREENFIELD – Clarke football struggled with the passing attack of Nodaway Valley Friday night, losing to the Wolverines 40-21.
The Indians jumped on the board first with a score by Chris Carson, which was set up on a near 80-yard score by Fany Fry. Carson punched it in to give Clarke a 6-0 lead, but the extra point was no good.
The Indians’ defense was unable to stop NV’s Tony Ayase on a run up the middle, scampering 74 yards for the score nearly untouched to tie it up at 6-6 with the conversion failing.
A drive to start the second quarter resulted in a touchdown for Clarke, with Carson needing one yard to cross the goal line to give the Indians the lead again. Jacob Jamison converted the two-point attempt to give the Indians an eight-point lead at 14-6.
The Indians surrendered back-to-back 20-plus yard passes to the Wolverines to put NV within striking distance, doing so on an Ayase score from eight-yard line.
The score pulled it to 14-12 with Clarke still hanging onto the lead. The Indians took the ball from their own 35-yard line on the following drive, but it stalled on their own 44-yard line, turning the ball over to Nodaway Valley on downs.
That proved costly as quarterback Nathan Russell and receiver Clay Hohertz connected on a touchdown pass with 1.2 seconds left in the half to give the Wolverines the lead at 18-14.
A pass interference penalty with six seconds on the clock set up the back corner fade to Hohertz, who barely got a foot planted and a toe dragged in time before his momentum pulled him out of the end zone.
The lead change was the final of the game as the Indians allowed another score with by way of the Russell-to-Hohertz connection with 9:06 left in the third quarter. The two-point conversion counted, making it 26-14.
The Indians had an opportunity to strike and pull the game within a score late in the third quarter, but a snap from the center sailed into the backfield with no Clarke player around for the recovery.
The Wolverines jumped on the ball on what was a first down on the 15-yard line, a punch in the gut to an Indian offense that was methodically moving the ball up field.
Fortunately for Clarke, the turnover turned into a drive that ended in a punt for the Wolverines, giving the Clarke the ball on its own 32 to end the third quarter.
A false start and a sack made it 2nd-and-36 for the Indians, bringing Clarke to punt two plays later.
The Indians punted three times for a total of 140 yards.
A touchdown after the punt led to a Hunter Ernst receiving touchdown to extend the Indians’ deficit to 32-14, but a 61-yard score off the legs of Tanner Fry made it an 11-point game for Clarke.
The difference became 19 as a Jon Gebbie 21-yard reception went for a score to as the Wolverines handed the Indians their first loss of the 2019 season.
The Indians expected a new-look offense for Nodaway Valley to include a healthy dose of passing, according to Clarke head coach Duane Matthess.
“(We knew) they’re going to pass the ball. They did that, and when they ran it we didn’t tackle,” said Matthess.
The Indians struggled on both sides of the ball with flashes of excellence, but the Wolverines took advantage of a hobbled team that was missing Sam Cooley and Brian Avalos.
“Obviously you saw compared to Week 1 and Week 2 a big difference,” said Matthess. “It affected it (the outcome).”
The Indians posted 274 yards rushing with Fani Fry being the leader with 86 yards. Carson scored twice on 68 yards and 18 attempts.
Tanner Fry had the one touchdown on seven rushing attempts going for 67 yards.
Alejandro Davis had six solo tackles, one coming for a loss. Jacob Smith posted the high with eight solo tackles and two coming for a loss.
UP NEXT – Clarke will hit the road again, this time heading to Red Oak for a battle with the Tigers.