BELLEVUE - The fans who packed First National Bank Field at Bellevue for Friday's Division III Region 8 semifinal between Clyde and Perkins spent a lot of time wondering.
When was the explosive Perkins offense going to break out?
When was Sandusky Bay Conference player of the year Dale Irby going to take over?
No one ever got those answers, because Clyde never let either happen.
In a defensive clinic, Clyde avenged its only regular season loss, shutting down Perkins for a 19-6 victory. The Fliers now earn the right to play top-seeded Toledo Central Catholic next Friday in the regional championship game.
"It's one of those things where our defense has flat out carried us all year. And it was no different tonight," Clyde coach Ryan Carter said. "We turned the ball over there a couple times there in the second half. But, I couldn't be more proud of a group of kids. We started this thing way back in June and our kids were uneasy about what was going to happen. They have bought in 100 percent since day one. Couldn't be more proud of a group of kids."
Perkins, a team which came into the night averaging nearly 450 yards a game, totaled minus-4 yards of offense and no first downs in the opening frame. When Irby broke off a 27-yard run on the first play of the second quarter, there was a thought that might've been the turning point. Instead, it was the high-point of the Perkins offense until late in the fourth quarter. Irby averaged over 13 yards a carry through his team's first 11 weeks. Friday, Clyde limited him to 52 yards on 15 carries.
Pirate quarterback David Doster was only playing his second game back after missing time with a knee injury. Clyde defensive back Eric Wiseman, who picked off Doster twice, said his injury allowed the Fliers to key more on Irby.
"With Doster being a little bit injured with his knee, Irby was just the key for us," Wiseman said. "As long as we got him shut down, and we shut down the run, we figured we could play well on defense.
"Our defense pulled through. Our D-line did really well, our linebackers shut down the holes, as defensive backs we were covering deep. Everything was locked down for us."
Wiseman helped set up Clyde for its first points of the night. On its first possession, quarterback Tim Hoppe hit Wiseman in stride down down the left sideline for a 49-yard gain. Shortly after, Austin Baker knocked in a 28-yard field goal for an early lead.
That turned out to be a common theme on the night. On the next two Clyde possessions, the Fliers got deep into Perkins territory, but had to settle for Baker field goals.
Baker accounted for all the first half scoring in a 9-0 Clyde lead. Clyde held a halftime lead when the teams first met in Week 6. In that game, Perkins rolled in the second half to get the win. Clyde made sure that wouldn't happen again this time around.
"We played better. We did a few things technically different but I thought our kids just came out hungry tonight," Carter said. "We were everywhere on defense. Our playmakers made a couple plays offensively to get us down there. Our kicker, you talk about Austin kicking the heck out of the ball. That's huge. You get up 9-0 in a game like that, when your defense is playing well, two scores is big."
Baker hit his fourth field goal of the night early in the third quarter to extend the lead, but Perkins was still within striking distance. That was until Clyde finally hit paydirt late in the third quarter.
A Wiseman interception set Clyde up in Pirate territory. On the Fliers' first offensive play, Hoppe connected with Derek Gray on a 33-yard strike, putting Clyde inside the 5. Three plays later, Hoppe ran around the left end for the score and a 19-0 advantage.
"It was getting to us," Hoppe said of having to settle for field goals. "It was getting annoying, but Austin Baker, great job. He just sits at practice kicking those all the time. It paid off; it paid off right here. When we finally got in there, they didn't make it easy either, but it felt great."
"I think that was a really big part of the game," Wiseman added. "We knew we had the lead, but I think that really sealed it for us, got our mindset 100 percent on it."
At that time, Perkins had yet to run a play in Clyde territory. Its first one didn't come until recovering a Clyde fumble on the Flier 15.
It was the Pirate's first real scoring threat, but that ended two plays later when Colin Rieman intercepted Doster in the end zone.
Perkins finally scored late in the fourth quarter on a 65-yard run from backup quarterback Matt Schweinfurth, but it was too little, too late.
The one big play for Perkins only made the final stats look a tad less lopsided. It was Clyde's night. It's defense made sure of it.
"They played lights out. They did a nice job tonight," Perkins coach Jason Ziegler said of the Fliers. "We didn't have an answer for them tonight. That's a good defense, a good team. Like I said, I knew going into this it was going to be a battle. Our kids gave it everything we had. I'm so proud of our seniors for not quitting at the end, just continuing to fight. ... I wish these guys the best. It's a great coached team. They play hard. They're going to represent the SBC fantastically. I'm looking forward to them hopefully bringing a state title to the SBC."
"I though we'd have to score more than 19, but our defense has carried us all year," Carter said. "I thought with their playmakers, they would make a couple plays here and there, but our defense just shut them down. You got to give all the credit for them."