By: Dan Stickradt
FOOTBALL: Quick strikes leads Clarkston past Oxford
BY DAN STICKRADT
OXFORD — The true test of a football team’s mettle is how they respond to a loss.
Clarkston proved to be a team that knows how to respond and turn the tide — in a major way.
After dropping a 37-16 decision to West Bloomfield in Week 3 on a night where the Wolves committed four turnovers, the Wolves bounced back with a resounding 48-0 OAA Red Division shutout Friday of host Oxford to remain in the league title chase.
Clarkston scored 20 points in the first 4:42 of the contest, aided by forcing a pair of turnovers in that stretch, and never looked back in its most complete game of the season.
Clarkston out-gained Oxford 327-137, led by Michael Fluegel’s 10 carries for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
“After that loss last week, we had to bounce back (to stay in the league hunt) and we did a pretty good job tonight,” smiled veteran Clarkston coach Kurt Richardson.
The Wolves (4-1, 3-1) opened with eight-play, 60-yard drive that was capped with a 1-yard plunge by Josh Cantu with 8:45 left in the first quarter.
Clarkston’s Zach Scott made it 14-0 on Oxford’s first play from scrimmage, intercepting a Parker Fleming pass and returning it 26 yards for the score with 8:27 left.
“I think that took the wind out of their sails a little bit,” said Richardson. “When you’re down 14-0 and the game is only a couple of minutes old, it’s hard to come back. We had a great start in the first half, put them in a big hole early.”
Scott’s interception was his fifth of the campaign but first for points and it helped the Wolves take command early.
“That was my first defensive varsity touchdown and I’ve played defense since my sophomore year. It’s exciting. I saw it, jumped in and took it back," said Scott, who spearheaded the Wolves’ vicious defensive attack. “We needed to bounce back tonight and I thought we did. Our goal defensively is to hold opponents to 14 or less points because we know our offense can score more than 14. We all did our parts.”
The Wolves shoved Oxford (1-4, 1-3) into an even deeper hole by forcing a fumble that was returned inside the Wildcats’ 10 by Stewart Newblatt. Nathan Uballe connected with Tieler Houston on a 7-yard TD strike for a 20-0 advantage with 7:18 still to go in the opening quarter.
The Wolves added two more second-quarter scoring drives to their commanding 34-0 lead at the half.
Uballe found a streaking Conner Heaton for a 4-yard fade pass in the corner of the end zone, while an Houston interception set up another score. This time Fluegel, an All-State running back last season, sprinted home with a 13-yard touchdown run to cap the first-half outburst.
In the second half, Clarkston tacked on two mores scores, as Fluegel raced 74 yards untouched for one touchdown, while Anthony Welch plowed into the end zone from 5 yards out for the other touchdown.
Trisan Mattson finished 6-of-7 on extra points for Clarkston.
Sophomore Drew Carpenter finished with 94 rushing yards on 14 carries to pace Oxford, which accounted for more than half of the Wildcats’ offense.
“There is only one person to blame for this game, not the players, not the assistant coaches, and that’s me,” sighed Oxford coach Bud Rowley. “We were not prepared. Clarkston is a very good football team, with good players and are well coached. They came ready to play the greatest game in the world. We did not.
“We’ll forget about this because there’s nothing we can do about it now,” continued Rowley. “We’ll move on and get ready for next week.”