Fliers’ improbable postseason run continues
Just a few days prior to Saturday’s Division IV, Region 14 semifinal, Ryan Carter had a birthday, turning 43 years young.
The way Clyde has opened its two playoff games is aging Carter just a tad quicker than he would like to.
But, for the second week in a row, the eighth-seeded Fliers ripped off 28 unanswered points, this time topping fourth-seeded Shelby, 35-21 at Frost-Kalnow Stadium.
“We have to stop spotting points and digging ourselves holes,” Carter said. “It is something to be said about our kids’ resiliency — taking the adjustments we do at halftime and fighting back. Shelby is a good football team.”
Clyde improves to 8-4 and will face sixth-seeded Ottawa-Glandorf (9-3) at Donnell Stadium in
“We cost ourselves a little bit in the first half, but you have to attribute that to Shelby,” Carter said. “They made some plays. We came out in the second half and I thought we executed very well. We got a couple breaks to go our way and I thought we capitalized on that.”
For the second straight week, the Fliers fell behind 14-0 before rallying.
“We are going to have to figure it out though,” Carter said. “You can not keep doing that and expect to keep fighting back. We can not spot anybody in a regional final game 14 points and expect to come back.”
After a disastrous end to the first half, Clyde found itself trailing 21-7, but opened the third quarter with the ball. A 10-yard pass from Ryan Lozier to Carson Rieman got the Fliers a first down, but later, Clyde faced a fourth-and-one at the Shelby 42.
Gunner Golden rumbled straight into the line and picked up two yards for another first down. Then, Lozier found a wide-open Rieman near the Clyde sidelines for a 40-yard score. Victor Guzman-Moreno added his second of five extra points and the Fliers were within 21-14.
The Whippets (8-4) picked up a first down on their ensuing drive, but an one-yard loss on a fumble and a 13-yard loss by quarterback McGwire Albert forced a punt by Shelby in its own end zone.
The short punt set up Clyde at the Shelby 35, but a holding call pushed the Fliers back. It did not matter though, as the Lozier to Rieman connection struck again, this time for a 42-yard touchdown with 3:56 left in the third quarter.
Shelby went three-and-out and a 32-yard punt return by Will Lozier again gave the Fliers good field position. Clyde continued to pound the ball on the ground, but faced fourth-and-1 at the Shelby 19 as the fourth quarter began.
Golden took the handoff again, but bounced outside and scored to give the Fliers their first lead of the night. After the Whippets racked up 277 yards of offense in the first half, the Clyde defense held Shelby to just five yards of offense on nine plays in the third quarter.
“I thought Clyde came out offensively and did some things,” Shelby coach Rob Mahaney said. “We had miscues on kickoffs, which pinned us back. We were uncharacteristically bad at a time where we could not be.”
The Whippets were again forced to punt after Jack Morrison sacked Albert on third down. Clyde churned away yards on the ground as the clock ticked away. After two big first downs, Golden again took things into his own hands, exploding for a 40-yard touchdown run — his third of the night. That pushed the Fliers ahead, 35-21 with 5:34 left.
“I love taking on the challenge of getting a lot of carries,” Golden said. “It does not bother me. I feel great. My line did it for me. They open the holes and it starts with them.”
Nick Webb intercepted Albert on the ensuing drive to emphatically slam the door on an impressive second-half performance by the Clyde defense. The Fliers allowed just 65 yards while holding McGwire to 5 of 18 passing for 42 yards in the second half.
“Overall, I thought we wore on them a little bit,” Carter said. “I thought our run game really took place in the fourth quarter. I thought our kids did a much better job in the second half of reading keys and being in the right places.”
The first half belonged to the Whippets. Shelby marched down the field on its opening drive — highlighted by an acrobatic catch by Blaine Bowman on 3rd-and-10 to keep the drive alive. Later, Owen Fisher bounced outside and scored from nine yards out and the extra point by Marshall Shepherd was good.
The Fliers picked up a pair of first downs in response, but a fumble ended the drive at the Shelby 40. The Whippets picked up chunks of yards and scored when Albert hit Evan Bogner with 4:19 left in the first quarter.
Clyde had its first answer as the quarter ticked away. Golden picked up seven yards for a first down before Lozier completed consecutive 17-yard passes — the first to Rieman, the second to Webb — for first downs. Another 15-yard pass from Lozier to Rieman got the Fliers to the Shelby 1, and Golden scored from two yards out to cut the margin to 14-7.
Both teams’ defense played well for most of the second quarter before Clyde put together an extended drive midway through. The Fliers picked up four first downs, but Shelby stiffened and an incomplete pass on third down brought up fourth-and-goal. Carter tried to reach into the bag of tricks, but a pass from Kaiden Olson to Lozier was batted away and the Fliers came up empty.
“You second guess yourself,” Carter said. “We probably should have kicked the field goal. I felt like we had a play that Shelby had not seen and we can run it. They did a great job defending it.”
The Whippets were quick to pounce. Fisher picked up 34 yards over two carries and a 22-yard pass was aided by a Clyde personal foul to put Shelby in serious business. Albert hit Andre Hill for a 21-yard score, finishing off what could have been a 10- or 14-point swing in about 90 seconds.
“We could not get off the field,” Carter said. “We had a penalty that aided them. Shelby did a great job of going down and scoring and taking that momentum into halftime.”
Albert was a crafty 11 of 18 for 139 yards in the first half.
“I thought McGwire’s first half was probably his best first half all year,” Mahaney said. “He did a good job of finding guys.”
Fisher finished with 20 carries for 139 yards, but was held to 15 yards on five carries in the second half.
“He is a great running back,” Carter said. “We had to keep wearing on him. I thought we did a great job of that. If you keep beating on them and keep getting hits on him, they don’t run as fast in the third and fourth quarters.”
Rieman hauled in eight passes for 148 yards. The senior now has 22 receptions for 349 yards and five touchdowns in his last three games.
“Carson is at a different level right now,” said Carter of the senior. “He is playing at a pretty high level. I am proud of him.”
Lozier completed 10 of 15 passes for 179 yards while running 18 times for 79 carries. Golden tallied 124 yards on 19 attempts.
“We have our work cut out,” Carter said. “Our kids will go back to work. We are just happy to be practicing on Monday and we have a game next week.”