GLADWIN – The Flying G’s traded punches with Clare all night, but can up one short as the Pioneers took a 41-30 win Friday night. “We were right there,” said Coach Marc Jartsfer. “We just made too many mistakes.”
Clare scored first taking a 7 point lead with 5:46 to go in the first quarter, but Gladwin answered immediately driving 51 yards in five plays to make the score 7-6. Aaron Kozlow had a couple of big plays on the drive including a 17-yard run and a 12-yard touchdown reception from Nick Wheeler.
With Clare leading 13-6 Gladwin got the ball back after a short punt at the Clare 37 yard line. Eight plays later Wheeler hit Kaden McDonald for an 11-yard touchdown cutting the score to 13-12 with 12 seconds left before halftime. Clare took the ensuing kick about 75 yards to the end zone as time expired giving them a 19-12 lead at halftime.
After stopping Clare on their first possession of the second half the Flying G’s drove 70 yards with Logan Kokotovich running for the final 15 yards to once again bring the G’s within one point, 19-18. Gladwin then took its first lead of the game, 24-19, early in the fourth quarter on a two-yard run by Wheeler. After another Clare touchdown the G’s found themselves behind 27-24 mid-way through the fourth, but like they had done all night they battled back and scored with 7:33 left in the game.
Gladwin drove to the Clare four-yard line and on fourth down Wheeler hit McDonald on a fade route to the corner of the end zone for a touchdown and another Gladwin lead, 30-27. The Pioneers have been one of the better teams in the Jack Pine Conference for 20 years and they weren’t going to go down easily. They responded with a 70-yard drive of their own and retook the lead with 3:30 left in the game, 33-30. When the ensuing drive stalled on the Clare 22 yard line the Pioneers scored another touchdown to make the final score 41-30.
It was a tough loss for the Flying G’s, but they will have to recover quickly. They travel to Beaverton this Friday for the annual “Battle for Butch.” Gladwin has responded to adversity all year and Jarstfer doesn’t expect this week to be any different. “We have a different mindset and culture this year and it keeps improving every week,” he said. “We have another opportunity this week to play one of the top teams in the conference, hopefully our kids can get up for it and I think they will.”
Kokotovich had an outstanding game both offensively and defensively. Jarstfer said that the Clare coaches had high praise for his effort. He finished with 81 yards and a touchdown on 22 attempts on the offensive side and seven tackles on defense. Wheeler threw for three touchdowns and rushed for one. McDonald had four catches for 61 yards and two touchdowns Koslow had two catches for 72 yards and one touchdown. Ethan Shea led the defense with 10 tackles. Wheeler and McDonald each had seven. Hunter Williams added an interception.
It doesn’t get any easier for Gladwin as they travel to Beaverton this week. The Beavers are in second place in the Jack Pine Conference and it is also their homecoming. The game is scheduled to start a 7 p.m.