CHARLESTOWN – Many observers weren’t surprised by Clarksville’s 54-18 win over Pekin Eastern last week, which snapped the Generals’ 46-game losing streak that stretched over 4 1/2 seasons.
But many were skeptical if the Generals could hang with host Charlestown, despite the fact that the Pirates were in search of their first win of the season at Dutch Reis Field on Friday.
Charlestown coach Jason Hawkins wasn’t among those people. Despite a shaky start by the hosts that provided some early anxious moments for the home fans, the Pirates (1-2, 1-2 Mid-Southern Conference) rallied to capture a 49-14 win over Clarksville.
After the Generals held a 14-13 lead late in the second quarter, the hosts exploded for 36 unanswered points to wrest control of the contest and win going away.
Marion Lukes carried the ball 20 times for 228 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Andrew Snider ran for two touchdowns and threw two passes for the Pirates’ offense.
“It wasn’t about us underestimating them,” at the start, Hawkins said.
“We had just come off losing two games that we could have won against two really good teams [Silver Creek and Brownstown] so we were in a little bit of a lull. So we were a little stunned. But Clarksville has a good team, they have a lot of speed. Once we figured out the speed of the game, we got more confident, we didn’t get down on ourselves and everything worked out.”
For most of the first half, it was the upstart Generals (1-2, 1-2 MSC) who looked like the more confident team. After Clarksville failed to muster a first down on their first drive, Charlestown took over at the Generals’ 30 yard line following the punt return, and a five-yard run from Lukes resulted in the contest’s first touchdown. After Jason Almeciga’s extra-point, the hosts led 7-0.
Clarksville took the lead on the very next drive. On 4th down, quarterback Keyshawn Minor found Robert Lamar over the middle for a 30-yard touchdown pass, and Daniel Horton punched in the two-point conversion, and the Generals took an 8-7 lead.
Early in the second quarter, Dae’Von Fuqua picked off a Snider pass near the end zone on Charlestown’s next drive, and after a lengthy drive, Minor scored on a quarterback sneak. Clarksville’s two-point conversion failed, but the Generals had a surprising 14-7 lead midway through the second quarter.
Charlestown answered with Snider’s first touchdown run, but their two-point conversion attempt failed and the Generals still led 14-13 with just over four minutes left in the first half.
Clarksville, which had converted two big fourth downs during the first half - including the touchdown connection from Minor to Lamar - attempted to go for a 4th and 17 near midfield but turned it over on downs.
Despite facing several fourth downs, the Generals failed to punt in the contest. In fact, neither team punted throughout the 48 minutes.
On second down, Snider hit Braiden Murphy for a 45-yard gain with less than a minute remaining before halftime, and the senior quarterback scored on a 9-yard touchdown run seconds later. That score gave the Pirates the lead for good.
Lukes intercepted Minor’s next pass attempt with time running down in the first half, and, next, Snider found Murphy again for a 22-yard touchdown pass with less than 9 seconds remaining in the half.
Two touchdowns. Twenty seconds. And Charlestown entered halftime ahead 27-14.
“I have to take some responsibility for that,” Boser said, “I look at myself for that. We were trying to make a play after they went ahead, and maybe we should have run out the clock and get it to the second half only down a score.
“Our players came out hard in the first half. We’re still working on some things. We didn’t want to let 9 (Lukes) beat us, and we did okay for the most part.”
We can compete with the best teams in the conference, but we’ve got to do the little things right, and work to make the big play when we need it.”
Meanwhile, the onslaught continued in the second half as the Pirates not only kept the Generals out of the end zone, but also tacked on 22 more points.
“We’ve got kids who can make plays, and we didn’t get in a rush, we remained patient and confident, and it worked out for us,” Hawkins, a Clarksville alum whose dad, Dennis, is the school’s all-time winningest coach, said.
The Pirates continue their slate of conference games next week when they travel to Ramsey to face North Harrison. The Generals will host Providence in the town championship.