A pair of critical turnovers late in the first half swung the momentum in favor of Clarinda Friday, Aug. 30, as the Cardinals pulled away from Shenandoah for a 34-6 win at Cardinal Field in the Page County Super Bowl.
The rivalry game was the first of the season for both teams. It also marked the start of the coaching career for new Clarinda head coach Collin Bevins.
“I was a little nervous at first walking down the hill with the music playing and the crowd. There was a big crowd there to support both teams, but once the captains went out everything kind of went away,” Bevins said.
In 2017, Shenandoah posted a 35-26 win over the Cardinals in the Page County Super Bowl in Clarinda. The Cardinals avenged that loss last season with a 37-19 win at Shenandoah. Now, with the win Friday, the trophy will stay in Clarinda for another year.
Bevins said winning a rivalry game like the Page County Super Bowl to start a new season creates a positive sense of anticipation about the season ahead.
“It’s always big to win a rivalry game like that, especially in the first week. The morale is high and we are looking forward to the rest of the season,” Bevins said. “I was excited, the other coaches were excited, the players were excited and I could tell the students in the crowd were excited. It was awesome to see our hard work over the last four weeks pay off.”
Following a scoreless first quarter, Clarinda broke the ice with a 66-yard scoring drive on its first possession of the second period. The Cardinals relied heavily on the running of Connor Brown early in the drive as he carried the ball on four of the first six plays to move the Cardinals to the Shenandoah 23 yard line.
Brown led the Cardinals with 24 carries for 78 yards. Cole Ridnour added eight yards on three rushing attempts.
“Our offensive line started slow. They threw a new front at us, so we had to step back and look at the sideline replays we get. We made some corrections and the kids got after it,” Bevins said.
However, faced with a third down and 10 situation, Clarinda went to the air. Michael Shull was able to connect with Nathan Lindsay on a 14-yard pass play that set the Cardinals up with a first and goal opportunity at the Shenandoah nine yard line.
Two plays later, Shull outraced a Mustangs defender to the right pylon for a five-yard touchdown run with 3:57 left in the first half. Nathan Barnes tacked on the extra point to give the Cardinals a 7-0 lead.
On the ensuing series, the Mustangs managed to pick up two first downs as the clock wound down to 1:14 remaining until intermission. However, after a timeout, Shenandoah attempted a first down pass that was foiled by Lindsay.
Lindsay read the play and stepped in front of a pass from Shenandoah quarterback Kyle Cerven and raced up the far sideline. Cerven recovered to knock Lindsay out of bounds at the three yard line, but Clarinda was set up with an important scoring opportunity.
“Nathan was just playing his role. He is an athletic guy, so we put him on the two receiver side. He attended to his responsibility and got rewarded for it,” Bevins said.
Shull promptly converted the turnover into points as he found the end zone on the first play from scrimmage. Barnes was again true on the extra point as the Cardinals extended their advantage to 14-0 with 0:56 showing on the clock.
With time ticking away in the first half, the Mustangs followed up a draw by Cerven with another pass attempt on second down. The decision proved disastrous for Shenandoah as Kory Rogers collected another interception for Clarinda.
Rogers also collected five tackles for the Cardinals in the contest. Ridnour led the squad with eight stops, while Parker Rock followed with six tackles.
Jakob Childs joined Rogers with five tackles. Dagan Price chipped in with four stops, while Shull recorded three tackles.
“Those two turnovers at the end of the half really helped us with our confidence. I was really happy with how our defense played. We had some alignment issues early, but once we got those corrected we got going and showed what we could do on defense,” Bevins said.
The interception by Rogers set Clarinda up with a first down just on the Shenandoah side of midfield. Although time was limited, Bevins was not content to sit on the lead.
Instead, the Cardinals went to the air and completed two big passes to set up another late scoring opportunity. Shull opened the drive with a 26-yard strike to Ridnour and then found Lindsay along the near sideline 21-yard gain.
With the ball resting at the two yard line and time for only one more play, Bevins rolled the dice and went for a touchdown.
“We still had two timeouts in our pocket. If I show I have confidence in my guys late in the game, I know they will step up and make plays. I thought about it a second and realized we had nothing to lose. We were already up 14 and were getting the ball to start the second half, so if we could get in the end zone there to go up 21, we could start to drive the nail in the coffin,” Bevins said.
Rolling to his right on a run pass option, Shull out-sprinted a Shenandoah defender to pay dirt as time expired. Barnes knocked his third conversion through the uprights to send Clarinda to the intermission on top 21-0.
After both teams were forced to punt on their initial drive of the third quarter, Clarinda moved into scoring range on its second drive of the half.
Faced with four down and needing five yards, Clarinda sent Barnes on the field to attempt a lengthy field goal. However, after a penalty pushed the Cardinals back five yards, the offense returned to the field.
A screen pass to Ridnour netted the Cardinals 23 yards and a first down. Two plays later, Shull connected with Rogers for an eight-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 27-0 with 4:23 to play in the third quarter.
Ridnour anchored the Clarinda passing attack with three catches for 59 yards. Lindsay followed with two grabs for 34 yards, while Rogers hauled in two passes for 15 yards and two touchdowns.
As a result, Shull completed seven of his 11 passes for 105 yards. He also ran the football 11 times for 27 yards.
“We’re trying to bring a different dynamic to the team. The last couple of years they got away from throwing the ball with the single wing and the dive play. If you can make defenses account for two different things, it gives you more options they have to respect,” Bevins said.
Shenandoah responded with a sustained drive in the final minutes of the third quarter. The Mustangs capped off the 69-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Cerven to Blake Herold with only a fraction of a second left on the clock in the third quarter.
The Mustangs appeared to add another touchdown on a long run midway through the fourth quarter, but the play was nullified by a holding penalty. Soon after, Shull ended Mustang drive by collecting the third interception of the night for the Cardinals.
Clarinda steadily worked the football down field behind the rushing of Brown and Ridnour. Then, with 0:39 left in the game, Rogers posted his second touchdown on a third down pass by Shull from the eight yard line. Barnes hit the extra point to make the final tally 34-6.
“Eating up some time and scoring on that last drive was impressive. The way Connor Brown was able to get us into that position was really good to see,” Bevins said.
Clarinda will look to improve to 2-0 on the season Friday, Sept. 6, as the Cardinals journey to Red Oak for their first road game of the year. The Tigers opened the season last Friday with an 18-6 loss at Southwest Valley.
“We have to go 1-0 each week. We can celebrate this game for 24 hours. Then you have to reset, move on to the next week and take it from there,” Bevins said.
Shenandoah at Clarinda
SHEN 0 0 6 0 - 6
CHS 0 21 6 7 - 34
CHS - Shull 5 run (Barnes PAT good), 3:57, 7-0
CHS - Shull 3 run (Barnes PAT good), 0:56, 14-0
CHS - Shull 2 run (Barnes PAT good), 0:00, 21-0
CHS - Shull 7 pass to Rogers (Barnes PAT failed), 4:23, 27-0
SHEN - Cerven 11 pass to Herold, (Zwickel PAT failed), 0:00, 27-6
CHS - Shull 8 pass to Rogers (Barnes PAT good), 0:39, 34-6
CHS Rushing: C Brown, 24-78; Shull, 11-27; Ridnour, 3-8; Barnes, 1-(-10)
CHS Passing: Shull, 7-11-0, 105
CHS Receiving: Ridnour, 3-59; Lindsay, 2-34; Rogers, 2-15
CHS Tackles: Ridnour, 8; Rock, 6; Childs, 5; Rogers, 5; Price, 4; Shull, 3; C Brown, 2; Green, 2; D Brown, 1.5; Fast, 1.5; Howard, 1; Lindsay, 1; McNeese, 1; Pullen, 1; Herzberg, 0.5; McGregor, 0.5; Runyon, 0.5; Stogdill, 0.5