BY HANSON CRAFTON
In Friday’s Class 2A Sectional 39 semifinal, the Paoli Rams handled the Clarksville Generals 54-12 in dominant fashion to move onto the sectional finale next Friday.
From opening drive, Paoli showed the Generals that the Rams’ offense was going to be a problem all night. With a four-play drive that ended with a Luke Becht 6-yard touchdown run, the Rams proved that they would be able to move the ball with ease. After a quick four-and-out forced by the Paoli defense, quarterback Brett Balsmeyer found Tanner Kameda for a 45-yard touchdown giving the Rams a early 13-0 lead.
The Generals responded with a good drive of their own and junior Nate Knight punched home a 3-yard touchdown cutting the lead to seven late in the first quarter.
Paoli drove right back down the field and put up seven more points off of a Balsmeyer to Tanner Wroblewski connection for a 6-yard touchdown. The Rams would finished the first quarter a 20-6 lead.
Clarksville refused to go away, and with the Generals first possession in the second quarter, junior quarterback Wyatt Kissel connected with Andrew Wright on a 54-yard touchdown pass putting the Generals back within striking distance of the Rams.
After Clarksville recovered an onside kick and picked up a couple first downs, things began to look bright for the Generals. Momentum didn’t stay with Clarksville after Becht picked up a fumble and went 68 yards for a Paoli touchdown, pushing the Ram lead back to two possessions.
Paoli tightened up on defense not allowing Clarksville to move the ball and keeping them from getting any offense going. With eight minutes left in the second quarter Balsmeyer found Wroblewski again for a 29-yard touchdown and the rout was on. After two more Balsmeyer touchdowns — both to Kameda (13,19 yards) —the Rams took a 48-12 lead into the half.
In the second half, Paoli stepped up on defense playing a physical stingy run defense that caused four second half fumbles. It recovered two.
Offensively both teams were unable to find the end zone in the third quarter. The fourth quarter was a repeat of the third with the exception of a Bryan Morell 45-yard rushing touchdown for the Rams as the game was coming to an end.
Paoli will face Triton Central — a winner over Providence — in next Friday’s Sectional 39 championship.
PAOLI 54, CLARKSVILLE 12
Paoli 20 28 0 6—54
Clarksville 6 6 0 0—12
Clarksville: Kissel 7-17-124.
Paoli: Balsmeyer 9-15-138, 5 TD; Garrett Tolen 0-2-0.
Paoli: Becht 17-150, 2 TD; Morell 7-168, 1 TD; Balsmeyer 3-28; Evan Jones 3-21; Garrett Strange 2-8.
Clarksville: Kissel 15-47; Knight 15-30, 1 TD; Alex Bucheit 9-15.
Paoli: Kameda 3-77; Wroblewski 5-71; Strange 1-10.
Clarksville: Wright 3-72, 1 TD; Marquise Parrish 2-32; Luis Bisoso 1-10; Knight 1-minus 2.