Enthusiasm has been building throughout the week as the Clarinda Cardinals celebrate Homecoming Friday, Oct. 11, with a district battle against Mount Ayr at Cardinal Field.
“I am looking forward to Homecoming week and seeing what Cardinal Nation is all about. I’ve been impressed the first five weeks, so I’m sure I will be this week as well,” Clarinda coach Collin Bevins said.
Clarinda rattled off four straight wins to start the season, but will still be looking for its first district win Friday when the Cardinals battle the Raiders. The Cardinals slipped to 0-2 in the Class 1A District 8 standings Friday, Oct. 4, at Guthrie Center as they were edged 14-7 by ACGC.
“I told the kids after the game we have Homecoming week coming up. There can be a lot of distractions, but we have to do our best to block those outs. The football team has one job to do on Homecoming and that is to win the game. We’re going to do everything in our power to do that Friday night,” Bevins said.
Mount Ayr, meanwhile, brings an overall record of 5-1 into the showdown at Clarinda. After going undefeated in their four non-district games, the Raiders won their district opener 41-0 at home over West Central Valley in a game stopped at halftime due to lightning.
However, the Raiders dropped to 1-1 in the district after they suffered their first loss of the year, 14-6, Friday at Panorama. With the win, Panorama improved to 2-0 in district play with the win and is tied with Van Meter atop the district.
Clarinda faced a team nearly identical to itself Friday when the Cardinals took the field at Guthrie Center against ACGC. Both teams rely primarily on running the football. However, the Chargers had proven more explosive as they rushed for 1,876 yards through their first five games compared to 810 yards for the Cardinals.
Although the Chargers racked up another 290 yards on the ground against Clarinda, Bevins said holding ACGC to only 14 points showed the defensive effort the Cardinals were putting forth on the night.
“What they did was what they had put on film for five straight weeks. I thought we did a great job of stopping that offense. Holding a good team like that to only 14 points was quite an accomplishment for our defense,” Bevins said.
Anchoring the defense for the Cardinals was Dagen Price with 8.5 tackles. Michael Shull added eight stops, while Jakob Childs recorded 7 stops.
Logan Green and Cole Ridnour each contributed 5.5 tackles. Dalton Brown finished with three stops including the lone sack for Clarinda.
Still, the Cardinals trailed the Chargers 14-0 late in the third quarter after ACGC scored on a one yard quarterback sneak. The Chargers attempted an onside kick after the touchdown, but Mason McClarnon recovered the football as Clarinda possession at its own 46 yard line.
Connor Brown moved the chains with a lengthy run on the first play of the series. Brown led the Clarinda rushing attack Friday with 21 carries for 89 yards.
Then, after a short gain on second down, Shull moved the ball to the ACGC 30 yard line. Following the play, the Chargers were whistled for two penalties that moved the football just inside the ACGC eight yard line.
On first and goal, Shull picked up two yards. However, he was forced to leave with an apparent ankle injury and did not return. Two plays later, backup signal caller Wyatt Schmitt faked a handoff to Brown and made his way to the end zone on a six yard run. Schmitt finished the game with 13 yards rushing.
Nathan Barnes then came on to convert the extra point. As a result, the Cardinals cut the deficit in half, 14-7, with 11:54 remaining in the game.
“We had a couple bigger chunk plays on that drive, but what really helped us were the penalties. They were called for a personal foul and then unsportsmanlike conduct by their coach,” Bevins said.
On the next possession, the Cardinals allowed ACGC to pick up one first down before forcing the Chargers to punt.
Clarinda managed to cross midfield, but had to punt the football away four plays later. That proved to be the final possession of the game for the Cardinals.
Starting from its own 16 yard line with approximately 4:30 left in the game, ACGC was able to methodically move the football down the field. Fullback Gavin Cornelison carried the football seven times on the final drive to cap off a night that saw him rush for 175 yards on 31 carries.
“If you are going to have success against an offense like that, you have to stop the fullback dive. Obviously, the numbers show we did not do that,” Bevins said.
As the Chargers kept moving the chains, the Cardinals watched as precious time ticked off the clock. After converting a fourth down deep in Clarinda territory with approximately 1:00 to play, ACGC was able to take a knee and seal the victory.
“That last drive was a killer for us because we only had one timeout. Again, it came down to stopping the fullback dive. We didn’t do that and they ate a lot of time off the clock,” Bevins said.
Similarly, ACGC started the game with a sustained drive. The Chargers marched all the way to the Clarinda 16 yard line before a costly fumble was recovered for Clarinda by Dalton Brown. He also had three tackles in the game.
After Clarinda went three and out on its first possession, the Chargers again used its ground game to mount another scoring threat. ACGC advanced to the Clarinda 4 yard line. However, aided by a false start penalty, the Clarinda defense stiffened and forced the Chargers to turn the ball over on downs.
As a result, the game was still scoreless as the game moved into the second quarter. Trying to get out of the shadow of its own goal line, Clarinda put together a 10 play drive that reached the ACGC 29.
“We were having some success up the middle and they were having trouble with our read plays. So we didn’t see a reason to get away from that,” Bevins said.
Although a fumble ended the Clarinda drive, the Cardinals responded on defense by forcing ACGC to go three and out. As a result, Clarinda got the football back near midfield.
Clarinda managed to pick up two first downs before again being bit by the turnover bug. ACGC came up with an interception on third down 2:00 to play in the first half.
With time at a premium and needing to go 76 yards to reach pay dirt, ACGC crossed up the Cardinals by going to the air on first down. The pass went for gain of 56 yards.
“We had our defensive backs stepping up to support the run. That allowed their tight end to get in behind them and that’s where they had their success,” Bevins said.
On the next play after then lengthy completion, Cornelison took the handoff and went the final 20 yards for a touchdown. Cornelison also tacked on the two-point conversion to give the Chargers an 8-0 lead at halftime.
Clarinda at ACGC
CHS 0 0 0 7 - 7
ACGC 0 8 6 0 - 14
ACGC - Cornelison 20 run (Cornelison run good), 1:34, 8-0
ACGC - Littler 1 run (Cornelison run failed), 2:05, 14-0
CHS - Schmitt - 6 run (Barnes PAT good), 11:54, 14-7
CHS Rushing: C Brown, 21-89; Shull, 7-31; Schmitt, 7-13; Lindsay, 1-2
CHS Passing: 1-6-1, 10; Schmitt, 0-2-0, 0
CHS Receiving: Jobe, 1-10
CHS Tackles: Price, 8.5; Shull, 8; Childs, 7; Green, 5.5; Ridnour, 5.5; Da Brown, 3; Dr Brown, 2.5; Howard, 2.5; Lindsay, 2.5; McGregor, 2.5; Rock, 2.5; C Brown, 0.5; Jones, 0.5