MARION — Clear Fork and Pleasant have developed quite a rivalry, and along with it some nail-biting finishes.
“The last 3 years have been very exciting,” Colts head coach Dave Carroll said after his squad fell in overtime 47-44 before a large crowd Friday night. “We lit up the scoreboard this year.”
Brennan South put on a passing clinic, hitting on 27-of-48 passes for 425 yards and 5 touchdowns.
“He may be the best passing quarterback I’ve ever coached. I don’t think I’ve had a quarterback throw for that much before against a team like Pleasant. We’re not a prolific run team; haven’t been all year,” Carroll said.
The Colts did gain 131 yards rushing with South netting 76 of those.
“The great thing about Brennan is knows how to get out of trouble when there’s pressure. He has great pocket presence.”
That was on display during a fourth-quarter drive with the Colts trailing 41-34. He escaped a Pleasant defender and hit Tacoma Orr with a 31-yard pass for a first down. That play led to a 3-yard pass to senior wideout Jackson Myer that tied the game.
“He looks right, looks left and down the field. Our receivers, especially Ashton Lyon tonight, when the pocket broke down of coming back or going deep to find an open spot,” Carroll said.
Lyon caught 8 passes for 193 yards, including a 77-yard TD catch to set up a touchdown.
Pleasant (6-2, 2-2) drove 80 yards in 8 plays to open the game, with a 4-yard Patrick Blubaugh touchdown.
But Clear Fork (5-3, 2-3) responded with a 14-yard drive of its own, capped by a 9-yard South pass to a wide open Gabe Blauser.
Blubaugh ran for 188 yards for the Spartans. As a team Pleasant had 380 yards on the ground on 46 trips.
“He’s the all-time rusher at Pleasant High School and that’s pretty special,” Carroll said of the Spartans standout.
But he’s not their only weapon.
“The (Austin) Shaffer kid, what they do with him and the quarterback read and keeper stuff, and he can chuck it out there.”
Shaffer passed for 118 yards and ran for another 176.
“We thought we could run the ball a little bit and we did early on,” Carroll said. “Then it became a track meet, so to keep pace we threw the ball. That’s a classic ball game once again. We came out on top the last 2 times and they got it this time.”
Indeed it was another stellar contest between the two MOAC rivals who combined for 91 points and 1,052 yards.
“These last 3 games have been classics,” said Pleasant coach Aaron Cook. “You have to give their kids credit. They played hard.”
South connected with Lyon on a 35-yard touchdown pass that pulled Clear Fork back to within one score at 28-21.
Starting the second half the Colts drove 70 yards to tie the game at 28, courtesy of a South to Orr 3-yard pass.
But Pleasant countered again.
This time Blubaugh found paydirt from 11 yards out and that put the Spartans ahead 41-34.
Myer snagged a 3-yard pass from South to tie the game at 41. Pleasant fumbled the kickoff and Clear Fork recovered, only to cough up the ball itself at the Spartans’ 5-yard-line to force overtime.
“You’re not going to out-coach Pleasant. They’re very smart. They came out with that Double-H Back formation. That was awesome. And that play call at the end — the reverse pass — worked pretty good.”
The play Carroll was referring to was a pass to Shafffer on 4th and 5 at the 15 that he took to the 7-yard-line to set up the winning score on the next play.
That came after Blauser’s 23-yard field goal made it 44-41 in favor of Clear Fork.
“We still have 2 games left. You never know in this crazy league,” Carroll said. “We’ve still got a good shot at the playoffs at 6-4 or 7-3. There’s a lot left to play for.”