If you missed the Clark freshman football team take on the Brandeis Broncos, you missed two of the most exciting games of the season. Both teams came from behind in the final seconds of their respective games to send both Broncos teams home with losses.
The A game kicked off first with Brandeis getting the first possession. The Broncos managed to move the ball deep into Clark territory, but the Cougars’ defense stepped up, forcing Brandeis to turn the ball over on downs. Clark was forced to punt after advancing near midfield, and on the following series, Brandeis was forced to go three and out. On the first play after the Bronco punt, quarterback Heintzelman tried to hit wide receiver Jakub Rayfield on a post, but the Brandeis corner managed to rip the ball from Rayfield’s hands before he could come down with it, resulting in a Bronco interception. The Cougar defense held strong, and Brandeis sent out their punt unit after three plays, but caught the Cougs off guard when they faked the punt, carrying the ball for the first down over the left side of the Cougar defense. Three plays later, Brandeis was forced to punt the ball away in a 4 and 13 situation. On the following offensive series, the Clark offense found itself in another tough third and long situation when running back Eric Wente took the screen pass from Heintzelman 70 yards for the first score of the game. The Cougars attempted to kick the extra point, but couldn’t find the mark, leaving the score at 6-0 early in the second quarter.
After the Cougar kickoff, the Broncos found their wide receiver behind the Clark defense for a large gain and a first and goal at the Cougar eight yard line. Three plays later, thanks to stiff Cougar defense, the Broncos were looking at fourth and goal from the 12 yard line. Brandeis elected to throw the ball, which was intercepted by Jakub Rayfield in the endzone as time expired in the first half of play. The score stood Clark 6, Brandeis 0.
After halftime, Clark was set to receive on the kickoff. Brandeis kicked deep to returner/wide receiver Geremy Gutierrez, who reversed field and carried the kickoff back 80 yards for a Cougar touchdown, stretching the lead to 12-0 after the Cougars failed to convert the two-point play.
The Brandeis offense found some traction after the Cougar kickoff, and drove down the field in eight plays, scoring on a three yard run by the Bronco running back. Brandeis hit their extra point, and the score stood 12-7 in the third quarter. Brandeis surprised the Cougar return team with an onside attempt, with the ball ricocheting off of a Cougar returner and landing in the hands of the kickoff team. On the following Brandeis offensive play, the quarterback could not handle the snap, and a Clark defensive lineman managed to cover up the ball, giving it back to the offense. The Cougars, looking to capitalize on the shift in momentum, tried to find Rayfield deep on a post pattern, but a Brandeis safety managed to get to the ball first, resulting in a Bronco interception. Brandeis was forced to go three and out once again, and had to punt in a fourth and 20 situation, but the Cougar offense struggled as well, and turned the ball over on downs the following series.
Brandeis was forced to go three and out on another strong Cougar defensive stand to start the fourth quarter. After the punt, a Tre Banks run around the left side of the Bronco defense for an 18 yard gain looked promising for the Cougars, but three plays later Clark was forced to punt on fourth and 16. The Bronco returner couldn’t handle the punt, and a wary Cougar jumped on the muffed punt return to give the Cougars possession on the Brandeis 30 yard line. The Cougars called on Wente for three straight plays, advancing the ball eight yards to the Bronco 22 yard line. Heintzelman bulled forward on the quarterback keeper over the left side of the offensive line to secure a Cougar first down with under three minutes remaining in the game. One the following play, Wente’s number was called once again, but an unblocked Bronco lineman hit Wente just after the handoff, forcing a fumble that was recovered by the Brandeis defense.
The Brandeis offense managed a long pass, and followed it up with a long run to get to the Cougar 30 yard line in four plays. Three plays later the Broncos found an open receiver in the end-zone on a 20 yard pass for a touchdown with 14 seconds remaining on the clock. After the reception, the receiver spiked the ball, resulting in a 15 yard personal foul that would be assessed on the kickoff. The successful extra point put the Broncos ahead 14-12. Brandeis was forced to kick from their 25 yard line after the penalty yards were marked off. The kickoff rolled out of bounds and Clark opted to have the Broncos kick again from the 20 yard line. Once again, the kickoff rolled out of bounds, this time on the opposite side of the field, and once again, Clark made the Broncos kick off. On the third kickoff attempt from the 15 yard line, the Cougars mishandled the ball, and it appeared that Brandeis recovered, but a flag on the 15 signaled an off-sides penalty against the Broncos, and they were forced to kick off once again, only this time from the under the shadow of their own goalpost, from the 10 yard line. The Broncos kicked short for the last time, and the Cougars bobbled the return, but fell on the ball at the Bronco 35, with seven seconds left on the game clock. Cougar offensive play caller Coach Alejandro called for the hitch and pitch on the following play, and Heintzelman found Rayfield wide open against the Brandeis prevent defense, and after catching the quick pass from Heintzelman, Rayfield pitched the ball to Wente, who was running around the left side of the Broncos defense who were looking to tackle Rayfield. Wente managed to get the ball down to the Brandeis 5 yard line and get out of bounds with one second remaining on the game clock. The Cougars called a time-out to talk about the situation, and deep snapper Blake Hooker, holder Eric Wente and kicker Truett Heinzelman assured the Clark coaching staff that they could get the ball through the uprights if given the chance. With one second left on the clock, Hooker snapped to Wente, who placed the ball on the tee, and Heintzelman split the uprights as time expired, giving the Cougars the victory, 15-14.
The Cougar B game did not disappoint in the excitement department. Much like the previous game, the offenses for both teams struggled early, with the Cougars going three and out, punting on a 4th and 20 situation, and Brandeis turning the ball over on downs the following series The Cougars found some rhythm on the following possession when running back Ryan Ramirez carried over the left side of the Bronco’s defense for 30 yards and into Brandeis real estate. Roman Espino followed the run up with a nice grab and eight more Cougar yards, and two plays later, quarterback Max Arguello kept the ball on the zone read option, carrying wide around the left side 35 yards for a Cougar touchdown. On the conversion attempt, Arguello hit Espino once again, and the Cougars led 8-0 early in the second quarter.
The Broncos tried to respond before half on a 15 play drive after the Cougar kickoff, but the drive died on the Cougar 40 yard line as time expired.
Clark kicked off to start the second half of play, and Brandeis came out fighting. The Broncos threw a hitch screen wide on their second play from scrimmage, and the Brandeis receiver raced down the sideline for what appeared to be a 50 yard touchdown score, but the play was called back for holding. The Broncos were not discouraged, however, and drove the ball in 14 plays to find the endzone as time expired in the third quarter to make it an 8-6 game after the failed two-point conversion. The Broncos kicked off to the Cougars, who went three and out again. The punt was woefully short, and the Broncos found themselves on the Cougar 38 yard line only trailing by two points in the third quarter. Seven plays later, a Brandeis running back found room around the right side of the Cougar defense and raced 30 yards for another Brandeis score. The Broncos were successful on their two-point conversion attempt, which gave the Broncos a 6 point lead, 14-8.
On the subsequent Brandeis kickoff, the coverage team was a little too early to cross the line, resulting in a flag, and the Broncos were forced to kick off again from their 35 yard line. The Broncos kicked once again, and quarterback Max Arguello scooped up the return on the Clark 35 yard line, and returned the ball 30 yards to the Brandeis 35, setting up the offense with under two minutes remaining in the game, trailing by a touchdown.
The Clark offense came out throwing with Arguello hitting receiver Roman Espino once again for a five yard gain on the slant. The Cougars ran the zone read, with Arguello opting to give to Ramirez for no gain. With time ticking on the clock under 30 seconds, the Cougars went with the zone read once again. This time, Arguello kept the ball, sprinting around the defensive right, and outrunning tacklers to carry the ball 35 yards into the end-zone, making the score 14-14 with 0:09 left on the game clock. The Cougars quickly lined up in an offensive formation, but called timeout to set up their next play. On the two-point conversion, Clark ran an option play in which Arguello opted to keep the ball and ran three yards untouched into the endzone, to seal the victory, 16-14 with nine seconds remaining. On the ensuing kickoff, the Cougars corralled the Brandeis returner, bringing the game to its final conclusion.
I want to say that I am very proud of the fight and effort that our Cougar football team displayed the other night. They showed great character and fortitude in two very emotional games, and managed to come out on top in the end. I believe that the future of Clark football is bright with these young men leading the charge, and I look forward to being a part of their success as they go through the rest of their season. I hope you feel the same way and I look forward to seeing you next Friday as the Cougars open district play against the Stevens Falcons, on Friday, Sept 30, at 4:30 and 6:00 pm. See you there.