By Richard C. Lewis
Your Prep Sports
MARION – Clear Creek Amana’s dream start to the season came to a bitter end on Friday night.
Marion converted a two-point conversion in overtime to squeak by Clear Creek, 15-14, in a Class 3A, District 4 slugfest at Thomas Park Field.
Indians quarterback Trevor Paulsen connected with Grant Meth for the winning margin, much to the delight of a raucous homecoming crowd. The play came after Owen Carstensen knotted things up in the extra session with a 6-yard run.
The decision to go for two was a bit of a roll of the dice for Marion coach Tim Lovell, whose team is on a surprising run, winners of five of its last six – just a year removed from a winless season.
“You know, it’s our homecoming, and you either win or you lose,” said Lovell, whose team upped its record to 5-2, 4-1 in the district. “And, we didn’t want to another overtime, I didn’t, at least. And, I wanted to win the game, and I wanted our kids to win on homecoming, and in great fashion, and they did.”
Clear Creek Amana senior Ashton Carpenter
The jump-pass was tipped by a Clear Creek defender, but Meth kept his concentration to give his team the win.
“We call it basically a pop-pass, and we knew it would work, because we had been running a blast (runs up the middle) all game,” said Meth, who seemed unnaturally composed considering the pandemonium around him on the field after the game. “And, I just popped open in the middle, Trevor threw it, it got tipped up, and I just happened to be still paying attention, and I just reached up and caught it and made sure I was inbounds.”
The conversion ended Clear Creek’s school-record season-opening streak at six games.
“It was a tough loss,” said Clear Creek coach Matt Hughes. “We didn’t execute tonight offensively. There’s no ands, ifs or buts.”
The Clippers (6-1, 4-1) fell into a tie for the district lead with two games to go. Hughes knows there’s plenty to play for.
“At this point in time, you have two choices: You can either come our firing and getting better and going out (next week) to Davenport Assumption and giving them everything you got and continue to play like we’ve been playing, or you can fold your tent and end up being 6-3. If I know the character of this team, and I know these kids well enough, I think they’re going to choose to come out and continue to get better, and we’re going to try and get 1-0 next week.”
The game resembled a slow-moving chess match, with neither team moving the ball effectively and resorting to jockeying over field position. That was especially true in a scoreless second half: The Clippers managed just a single first down, while Marion mustered only three.
For the game, Marion totaled 129 total yards, 83 of them rushing. The Clippers had 151 rushing yards – 94 yards under their season average – and 190 for the game.
“Our defense again played an outstanding game,” Hughes said of his unit, ranked third in 3A in scoring defense, allowing a paltry 6 points per game, including three shutouts. “Offensively, we couldn’t find our rhythm, and we just didn’t control the trenches like we needed to and like we have done in the past.”
The Indians took a 7-0 lead with less than five minutes left in the first quarter on a 2-yard run by Paulsen. The key play came on a third-and-two play when Paulsen bounced off a crowded interior and broke loose for 34 yards to the Clippers’ 2-yard line.
Suddenly, Clear Creek Amana was facing a rare deficit.
The Clippers ate nearly the entire second period with a long drive that started at their 30. But the march stalled when Cade Gallagher was unable to muscle through on a fourth-and-one play at the Indians’ 13.
The Clippers sacked Paulsen twice on Marion’s ensuing possession, forcing an Indians punt out of their own end zone that put Clear Creek in business at the Marion 29. Gallagher made good with a one-yard plunge with 48 seconds before halftime to tie the game, 7-7, at the half.
The Clear Creek drive would have stalled if not for an offsides call on Marion with Clear Creek facing a fourth-and-five at the Indians 24.
Hughes called a timeout before the penalty.
“We knew they had been stacking the box and really getting aggressive on side,” Hughes said. “We were going to run the ball either way. I told the official on the sideline we were going to go on two, to make sure he was watching if anyone came into the neutral zone.”
The Clippers struck first in overtime on a 2-yard sneak by Carpenter. Clear Creek seemed to surprise Marion when, on second down, Carpenter rolled left and found Jared Eckrich for a 5-yard completion to set up the go-ahead score.
“You know, it was a good call by our offensive coordinator Matt Trosky,” Hughes said. “We hadn’t done that all night, and it worked, and so that’s another thing we can learn from. We have a large playbook, and we need to open it up and use it like we can.”
Marion Clear Creek Amana
First downs 7 7
Rushes-Yards 39-83 48-151
Passing 46 39
Comp-Att-Int 5-11-0 4-8-0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards 8-50 7-55
Clear Creek Amana 0 7 0 0 7 – 14
Marion 7 0 0 0 8 – 15
M – Trevor Paulsen 2 run (Alex Whalen kick)
CCA – Cade Gallagher 1 run (Tyreke Williams kick)
CCA – Carpenter 2 run (Williams kick)
M – Carstensen 6 run (Meth 2-point conversion from Paulsen)
Rushing – M: Owen Carstensen 12-27, Chris Mohwinkle 9-29, Trevor Paulsen 16-9, Ju’Corey Higgins 2-18. CCA: Matt Brimeyer 11-26, Jared Eckrich 4-10, Cade Gallagher 9-33, Ashton Carpenter 13-47, Grant Riggan 2-6, Cory Siders 9-29.
Passing – M: Trevor Paulsen 5-11-0 46. CCA: Ashton Carpenter 4-8-0 39.
Receiving – M: Blair Brooks 3-27, Grant Meth 2-19. CCA: Tate Thomsen 1-17,Travis McConnell 1-12, Kobey Schlotman 1-5, Jared Eckrich 1-5.