Weekly Feature

2010-09-15 / Sports

Football team announces return with win over OP

‘Killer bees’ post first win over Quakers since 2000 to keep share of league lead

Quarterback Zach Lauricella scrambles 33 yards for a game-tying first quarter touchdown during the Red Devils’ 37-28 victory over Orchard Park Saturday night. It was Clarence’s first victory over the Quakers since 2000. Photo courtesy Michelle Layer Quarterback Zach Lauricella scrambles 33 yards for a game-tying first quarter touchdown during the Red Devils’ 37-28 victory over Orchard Park Saturday night. It was Clarence’s first victory over the Quakers since 2000. Photo courtesy Michelle Layer During halftime of Saturday’s 37-28 victory over Orchard Park, Clarence football coach Tom Goddard reached into the past to recall a speech he gave his players in 1998 — the last time the Red Devils were truly on the cusp of being something special.

In that speech, Goddard told his players at the time how they had done well the year before, but was wondering if they thought they could play with the “big boys” — the Orchard Parks, the Lancasters and the Jamestowns — at the next level. With Clarence holding a 22-21 lead at the half of Saturday’s contest, Goddard revisited that inspirational speech and got a resounding yes when he asked his 2010 players if they thought they were ready to be a divisional contender.

The Red Devils responded with a second half effort that saw them pull away with a time-killing eight minute drive in the third quarter — capped by quarterback Zach Lauricella’s 4-yard touchdown run — that gave Clarence a 30-21 lead, along with all the motivation they needed to close out the contest victoriously.

“We had the ball first in the third quarter, so we told our guys we had to establish the fact that we were in control and that meant using up the clock,” Goddard said. “We did what we had to do with that drive, and it worked out pretty well for us. Getting that win proved that we can play at the next level.”

Clarence, which wound up having to wear its yellow practice vests because of a uniform snafu on Orchard Park’s part, answered the Quakers score for score throughout the first half en route to its one-point lead after two quarters. The “killer bees,” as Clarence’s players called themselves throughout the game thanks to their new look, constructed a time-eating drive in the first quarter — capped by Mike Gelz’s 3-yard run — to respond to Orchard Park’s initial 70-yard touchdown jaunt, but the Red missed the extra point to trail 7-6 at the time.

Lauricella then scored his first touchdown of the game, this time on a 33-yard run, to answer another Orchard Park first-quarter touchdown. Lauricella successfully converted the two-point attempt to knot the score at 14-14 when he found Sean Wolf on a pass. Orchard Park went back to work in the second quarter and used another big play, this time a 51-yard pass, to take its final lead of the game, 21-14.

The Red Devils weren’t about to let their chance at knocking off Orchard Park slip by the wayside, however, as Gelz’s 2-yard run put Clarence back on top for good right before the half after Lauricella scored on a two-point conversion run.

“That first quarter was pretty much a track meet, but we both started to slow down a little bit after that,” Goddard said. “When we were down 21-20, we made the decision that we wanted to win and not go for the tie, and we did that again after our fourth touchdown too just to add a few more points worth of a cushion.”

After being shut out in the third quarter, Orchard Park came storming back in the fourth quarter to pull within two points, 30-28. It wasn’t enough, however, as Gelz’s third touchdown of the day, a 1-yard run, put the exclamation point on the squad’s biggest victory in years.

“It was kind of crazy out there, playing with no numbers — we didn’t know who was who out there,” Goddard said. “But, we got the job done. Any time you can put up over 450 yards of offense on Orchard Park, it means your offense can move the ball against anyone.”

“(Clarence) ran effectively from a power set; they pounded it out on the ground,” Orchard Park coach Gene Tundo said. “We never stopped them. They have a big, strong team. They were better. They out hustled us. They made plays and we didn’t.”

Clarence, which gained the lion’s share of its yardage on the ground, was led by Gelz’s 177 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries. Cooper Wittig added 82 yards on 15 carries and also had a key interception defensively, while Lauricella chipped in with 54 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. Lauricella also completed passes to five different receivers to finish the game 5-of-18 for 123 yards. Wittig caught a 50-yard pass, while Bill Fitzhenry added a 40-yard reception.

The Red Devils (2-0 overall, 1-0 AA South) know they have another test coming up Friday night when they travel to Lancaster. The Redskins have had Clarence’s number more often than not in the recent past, and with their current 0-2 state, Goddard knows his players can expect Lancaster’s best in their first road game of the season.

“I’m hoping we can go in there and continue playing the way we have been so far,” Goddard said. “At 0-2, they know they have to win this week if they want any chance of staying in the Federation playoff hunt. So we know they’ll be coming after us full bore, and that means we need to control the clock and score points when we have the chance.”

e-mail: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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