BY CLAY CUNNINGAM
The North Clay Knights middle school football squad took to action Saturday for a pair of games against the Golden Eagles of Brown County.
It was a triumphant effort for the unbeaten seventh-grade squad, as they earned a crushing 50-6 victory. The offense showed a great balance of pass and run. Halfback James Lowery scored two touchdowns in the first half, while Tanner Wilson ended the second quarter with a 35-yard touchdown run. The passing game did its share as well, as quarterback Jim Mace tossed touchdown passes of 34 and 36 yards to Bryce Crawford and Jeremy Maffioli respectively. Mace punctuated the Knights lopsided win with a second TD strike to Maffioli on 4th-and-goal for the games' final points.
The defense was equally impressive. They did not give up a single first down, and scored on a safety and on an interception return for a touchdown by Connor Pierce. The only points the Knights allowed on the day was via a kickoff return for a touchdown by Brown County's Tyler Marcoux.
The eighth-grade was not as fortunate. After a 3-0 start, the Knights lost their second consecutive game, falling to the Eagles 26-6.
Special team's blunders cost North Clay early, as Jimmy Fowler returned the game's opening kickoff for a touchdown. Later in the half, a blocked punt set Brown County up deep in Knights' territory, which led to the first of three touchdown runs by running back Dylan Quackenbush, giving his team a 14-0 halftime lead.
The Knights had several opportunities to stay in the game, but were haunted by two turnovers in the red zone. They pulled to within eight, when Larry Shaffer scored on the second play of the fourth quarter. The defense was unable to hold however, as Quackenbush added two fourth quarter scores. which proved to be the difference.
Knights' coach Karl Schiefer said his team was unable to overcome their early mistakes.
"We fell asleep early and they jumped on us," Schiefer said. "We just couldn't come back from that."
After a hot start, Schiefer said he was disappointed to see his team take a step back in recent weeks, but said he would do everything he could to make sure the team's problems would be rectified.
"We all have to learn from our mistakes," Schiefer said. "We have a lot of work to do but we should be getting better."
With the win, the seventh-grade team improved to 4-0-1, while the loss took the eighth-grade to 3-2. Both teams will return to action next week when they host Edgewood on Saturday at 10 a.m.