What a day of high school football, huh?
Our second stop of an unusually eventful Saturday is Clarence for their big game against Orchard Park. Both teams started 1-0 last week and this game could go a long way towards deciding fates in Class AA South.
Disclaimer: Hey, NBC. I love Saturday Night Live. This is the first time we've had a huge football game on a Saturday night since we've been doing our live weekend blogs like today's Saturday Afternoon Live. Please don't sue us, OK?
7:32 p.m. Arrived at Clarence's very spacious press box to an awful sight. For some reason, Clarence is wearing yellow scrimmage/practice pennies over their uniforms. Good luck to fans, reporters and photographers trying to identify the players.
I overheard some Clarence people talking about a uniform snafu -- both teams are dressed in dark jerseys (OP in maroon, Clarence in black). Whatever the reason is, this is absolutely ridiculous. This is a big game, there are many media members here with cameras and such, and there are players in pennies. A joke. At least we have new lights here so we're able to see all of the action ... of the players in yellow pennies.
7:37 p.m. We've kicked off.
7:40 p.m. Orchard Park scores the game's first TOUCHDOWN just 26 seconds in as Okoya Anderson runs 70 yards. He took a handoff to the left on second down (OP's first play was an incomplete pass), got to the edge and just outran the Clarence defenders. Austin Reese adds the extra point and OP has a 7-0 lead with 11:34 to go.
7:42 p.m. Reese's kickoff is a touchback. Impressive.
7:58 p.m. After the teams traded possessions, Clarence drives behind the mean, hard, tough-to-tackle running of junior Michael Gelz, who runs in from 3 yards out on first-and-goal for a TOUCHDOWN. Steven Hughes' extra-point kick was no good. OP leads Clarence, 7-6, with 5:20 left in the first quarter.
8:06 p.m. OP gets a tremendous kickoff return from Okoya Anderson -- about 52 yards to get OP to the Clarence 30, but the Quakers don't move the ball and turn it over on downs.
On Clarence's first play from scrimmage, just an outstanding play from junior lineman Joseph O'Shei of OP, who batted a Zach Lauricella pass out of the air and then reeled it in for an interception while taking a hard, nasty (and clean) hit. OP ball at the Clarence 23.
8:12 p.m. The OP offense turns this big play into a TOUCHDOWN on second-and-goal at the 7 as Kyle Witkowski delivers a tight spiral to the left side to senior Robert Corvino, who catches and lunges across the goal line right next to the left pylon for the score. Reese adds another booming extra point and OP leads, 14-6, with 1:46 left in the first quarter.
8:18 p.m. Clarence comes right back, despite starting a drive on its 3 after a boomer of a kickoff by Reese that was mishandled. Lauricella hit Cooper Wittig, who was wide open on the right side to get Clarence to the OP 47. Two Gelz runs got the Red Devils to the OP 33, and Lauricella kept the ball on a run, and he sure did run -- sprinting down the left sideline for a TOUCHDOWN with 36.5 seconds left in the first.
8:21 p.m. After two penalties on the conversion attempt -- Clarence is going for two -- the Devils call a timeout. Time in, and Lauricella hits a guy in a yellow pennie in the back of the end zone to tie the game. Clarence fans tell the press box that Sean Wolf made the grab. We are tied at 14-14 with 36.5 left in the first quarter. This game is taking a longgg time.
8:24 p.m. At the END OF THE FIRST QUARTER, Clarence and OP are tied at 14-14.
8:27 p.m. This game is a shootout. OP quarterback Kyle Witkowski puts up a pretty ball down the right side and Ben Johnson runs on to it with perfect timing, coasting the final 10 yards himself on a 51-yard TOUCHDOWN. Reese adds the extra point and OP leads Clarence, 21-14, with 11:10 left in the second quarter. Whew.
8:35 p.m. Nominee for the best run that didn't count -- on third-and-1 at the Clarence 44, Gelz toughed his way through some potential tacklers, rambled into the secondary and then broke away for a touchdown ... but there was a flag down for holding.
8:41 p.m. Another few minutes, time for another TOUCHDOWN. Gelz, who had several big runs in that drive, nearly walked in from 2 yards out for a score with 6:45 left in the second quarter. A big play followed as Lauricella ran in the two-point conversion as Clarence takes its first lead of the night, 22-21.
8:50 p.m. Big play for Clarence, and it's not a score :-). The Red Devils stack up OP on a fourth-and-1 at the Clarence 20 with 4:25 left in the second quarter.
9:01 p.m. Clarence, then OP, and now Clarence again, have spent their last series passing and not completing. Clarence face fourth and 10 at the OP 36 with 38.7 seconds left in the first half and have called timeout.
9:07 p.m. Clarence turned the ball over on downs, then OP had a few more incompletions. The interminable last minutes of the second quarter have ended. It is HALFTIME and Clarence leads OP, 22-21.
9:39 p.m. The second half has started and Clarence has turned its first drive into a TOUCHDOWN. Lauricella ran in from 4 yards out on third-and-goal. He rolled right as if to pass, then sped to the right side and dove over the right pylon for the score. On the conversion, Lauricella kept the ball the other way, running in easily for the two-pointer and a 30-21 lead for Clarence with 4:18 left in the third quarter.
9:50 p.m. At the END OF THE THIRD QUARTER, Clarence leads OP, 30-21. OP has first and goal at the Clarence 4.
9:53 p.m. OP gets within two points after Okoya Anderson charges up the middle on second-and-goal for a 3-yard TOUCHDOWN with 11:18 left in the game. Reese adds the extra point and Clarence leads, 30-28.
10:24 p.m. Sorry -- had to get a story done for first edition. Clarence should win this game. It just stopped OP on fourth-and-7 at the OP 8 after a great punt by Clarence.
Clarence punted on its possession after the Clarence score; OP had a drive end when Wittig made an interception for Clarence; OP stopped the Red Devils but the great punt pinned OP at its 5.
10:26 p.m. Clarence will win. Gelz goes in for a 1-yard TOUCHDOWN on fourth and 1 to put Clarence up, 36-28, with 50.6 seconds to go. Steven Hughes kicks the extra point for a 37-28 lead for Clarence.
10:30 p.m. The great finish gets better and better for Clarence as its squib kick on the kickoff bounces off an OP player and into the hands of a Clarence player. Clarence will run out the clock. There are 45.2 seconds left.
10:31 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Clarence beats Orchard Park, 37-28.
The fans rush the field. Huge win for Clarence. It is the Red Devils' first win over Orchard Park in 10 years. Clarence's last win over OP was a 36-18 victory in Week Eight of 2000.