Notre Dame passes South Umpqua in Lancers’ season opener
TRI CITY — Early on, most of what was happening was good for South Umpqua.
Then Notre Dame Secondary School’s depth — and quarterback Will Clarke, in particular — took over the season-opening football game.
Clarke threw for three scores in the final 6:33 of the first half as the Jugglers, who call Vancouver, British Columbia, home, scored 20 unanswered points to end the half and seize a 20-14 lead. Notre Dame kept coming in the third quarter and finished off a 47-20 victory with a pick-six by Giancarlo Napoletano.
“Our first half was really good, but we just got winded,” S.U. running back/linebacker Creedance Ferguson said. “We don’t have a lot of guys out here. Our conditioning will get better.”
Chasing Clarke, an athletic 5-foot-9, 165-pound senior with the instincts of a college player, took its toll on the Lancers.
Notre Dame had a significant size advantage up front, but found the going tough sledding between the tackles. Clarke, though, broke containment and flat out broke the Lancers’ secondary with repeated passes into the flat and on drag routes.
Clarke beat S.U. with his arm and his feet, and had help from Jerrell Cummings, Matthew Glover, Nick Belmonte, Caleb Hoey and Napoletano.
“No. 9 (Clarke) is special,” S.U. coach Steve Stebbins said. “They have some athletes, that’s for sure. We saw that on film, but sometimes film doesn’t do that justice.”
Nonetheless, the Lancers crunched their way to a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Ferguson was the workhorse — a role he may need to carry all season after the Lancers lost junior Layton Yates in the first quarter — bulling in from the 14 and the 2. Ferguson also had a 22-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter and was well over the 100-yard mark in his starting debut for the Lancers.
S.U.’s second scoring drive was set up by Taylor Wylie’s 8-yard interception return.
Clarke got N.D. on the scoreboard with a 30-yard pass to Belmonte, and the floodgates proceeded to open. He hit Cummings for a 6-yard TD with 1:58 left in the half, then led a 41-second drive that ended with a 15-yard strike to Belmonte on the final play of the half for that 20-14 halftime edge.
“I think part of that, too, is that we wore down,” Stebbins said. “We’re a small band of troops here. We got tired and wore down running after him for the first two-and-a-half quarters.”
Clarke led three more scoring drives in the second half before going to the bench. He had a 32-yard pass for a first down to Glover to get a first-and-goal, and a 20-yard scoring pass to Hoey among his big plays.
“That’s all right, we’re going to get in better shape from this,” Stebbins said. “We’re going to have to, because they’re all we’ve got.”
The Lancers will host Dayton, 0-1 after losing to Santiam Christian 20-13, on Friday.
“That’s a great football program with a great history,” Stebbins said. “They’re more of a run, physical team. I don’t think we’ll have the quarterback issue to worry about as much, but they’re a big physical team.”
NotreDame 0 20 13 14 — 47
S.Umpqua 7 7 0 6 — 20
S.U. — Ferguson 14 run (Pires kick), 3:27
S.U. — Ferguson 2 run (Pires kick), 9:43
N.D. — Belmonte 30 pass from Clarke (Pinson kick), 6:33
N.D. — Cummings 6 pass from Clarke (Pinson kick), 1:58
N.D. — Belmonte 15 pass from Clarke (pass failed), 0:00
N.D. — Hoey 20 pass from Clarke (pass failed), 9:49
N.D. — Glover 5 run (Pinson kick), 2:30
N.D. — Hoey 10 run (Pinson kick), 6:30
S.U. — Ferguson 22 run (kick blocked), 4:49
N.D. — Napoletano 32 interception return (Pinson kick), 1:13