Clinton rallies, advances to third round
CLINTON—The Clinton Cougars got a scare Friday night.
Trailing at half for the first time this season, the Rock Valley Conference co-champions found the winning formula in the second half.
Zach Krause hauled in a 50-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Halsted with 43 seconds left in the third quarter to help rally Clinton to a 14-7 win over Arcadia in a second-round WIAA Division 5 game.
Top-seeded Clinton (10-1) won its 10th straight and advanced to a state quarterfinal game next Friday when it hosts second-seeded Lancaster (10-1).
Averaging nearly 38 points per game coming in, Clinton struggled mightily on offense in the first half. The Cougars had only 65 yards of offense and never threatened to score. Clinton trailed 7-0 at half.
Clinton coach Jeff Spiwak said his halftime specch was a simple one.
“I just told them to go out and have fun the second half,” Spiwak said. “They've been playing together since third grade and had been down 7-0 before.
“I told them nothing has changed and to stop making the game bigger than it was. Just come out and play like you're in third grade again.”
The pep talk paid off immediately. Clinton got within a point on Peyton Pope's 28-yard touchdown scamper with 5:59 left in the third. Pope busted up the middle, broke a tackle and raced untouched into the end zone.
With time running down in the third quarter, the Cougars took the lead for good. Quarterback Tyler Halsted dumped off what seemed like a harmless short pass in the flat to Krause, but the junior broke two tackles on the sideline, stepped over another defender and outran the secondary for a 50-yard TD. Cole Ciochon caught Halsted's jump-pass on the two-point conversion try, and the Clinton lead was 14-7.
Halsted said his team's poor showing on offense in the first half was uncharacteristic.
“We had a rough, rough game offensively,” Halsted said. “It was a wake-up call for us, no doubt about it.
“This is the first time going to the third round in school history, so I know next week we're going to play a lot better offensively. We got our wake-up call tonight.”
Arcadia (7-4) had one last-ditch effort to try and force overtime, but Connor Mullooly's sack of Brennan Scow sealed the Raiders' fate.
CLINTON 14, ARCADIA 7
Arcadia 0 7 0 0—7
Clinton 0 0 14 0—14
Scoring summary: A—Dayton Sokup 1 run (Carter Halverson kick). C—Peyton Pope 28 run (kick failed). C—Zach Krause 50 pass from Tyler Halsted (Cole Ciochon pass from Halsted).
Statistics: First downs—A 11, C 13. Rushes—A 35-76, C 47-169. Yards passing—A 102, C 62. Passes—A 16-7-2, C 6-2-0. Fumbles—A 2-1, C 4-0. Penalties—A 3-35, C 8-57.