FOOTBALL: Clarkston slowly pulls away from Rochester
CLARKSTON — It’s no secret that Clarkston’s bread-and-butter this season is its large and physical offensive and defensive lines. Even missing some key starters from that group Friday and losing two more to injuries during its game with visiting Rochester didn’t seem to detour the Wolves from their league championship quest.
Clarkston simply wore down Rochester, 24-0, Friday night in a battle of OAA Red Division unbeatens after holding just a six-point lead at the half.
“I think we wore them down a little bit. We didn’t make any huge adjustments other than execute better (in the second half),” said Clarkston coach Kurt Richardson. “I thought we could handle them defensively. We didn’t think they could score much on us. “We were missing three linemen to start (the game) and we lost a couple of more in the game,” added Richardson. “We lost three guys, all centers, but we had others step in and do a great job. I have to give the kids credit. There were some kids that haven’t played much offense until tonight and they stepped up.”
Clarkston held Rochester to a mere 57 total yards in the first half, including five plays for negative yardage, but struggled to move the ball on its own. The Wolves (3-0, 2-0) could only muster a nine-play, 61-yard drive that was capped by junior Ian Eriksen’s 4-yard plunge. The two-point conversion failed, leaving the score just 6-0 at the break. Clarkston benefited from a long field goal and a 40-yard punt return down inside Rochester’s 10 in the third quarter to break the game open. Shane Hynes’ mammoth, wind-aided, school-record 53-yard boot that split the uprights with distance gave Clarkston a 9-0 cushion with 6:51 left in the third quarter.
"That was a game-changer. That was a big one,” said Richardson of Hynes’ field goal. The 40-yard punt return by Jared Yaroch back down to the Rochester’s 6-yard-line set up Clarkston’s next score. Eriksen scored on a 4-yard run with 4:40 left in the third for a 16-0 advantage. “I think the punt return was a lot bigger (than the field goal) hurt us. We’ve had pretty good special teams and that think that punt was the big one. That put them (on the 6),” said Rochester coach Erik Vernon. “After that it was kind of tough. The whole night field position was against us. We couldn’t sustain drives.”
Eriksen tacked on another score with 11:52 left in the fourth period, this time courtesy of a 13-yard sprint, and the ensuing two-point conversion capped the scoring for Clarstkon. Eriksen finished the night with 32 carries for 151 yards and three scores. Ben Kamisky added 47 yards on 11 touches and DJ Zezula added 30 yards on five rushes for Clarkston. Rochester punted the ball nine times and shot themselves in the collective foot numerous times with penalties that stalled out drives. The Falcons (2-1, 1-1) went with several two-way starters and simply ran out of gas in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t execute very well,” said Vernon. “We had a couple of drives early on that looked very promising but we had some calls, holding penalties that hurt. We didn’t execute. We have some improvement to do but I think we can still be a pretty good team. We have to make sure we keep on working and going towards our goals.” John Doroshewitz was 10-or-18 passing for 75 yards for Rochester. The Falcons were held to just 29 rushing yards
(Dan Stickradt is Senior Editor for Digital Daily www.northoaklandsports.com and The Real Deal sports and coupons magazine, as well as a freelance writer for multiple media outlets, including State Champs! High School Sports Show website. He is a 20-year veteran sports journalist based in Oakland County, Mich. He can be reached by email at [email protected] Follow on Twitter @LocalSportsFans.)