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South Hills overpowers CHS football in high scoring loss

The Wolfpack hung tough with South Hills on Friday night, but the Huskies took advantage of breakdowns in coverage to win the game by the score of 42-27.

Claremont traded touchdowns with South Hills for most of the first half and forced a couple of turnovers, but was unable to consistently break down South Hills’ defense. Coach Mike Collins was proud of his team: “We executed our game plan very well against a strong team. Our defense played great against their powerful offense, but we eventually ran out of steam.”

Wolfpack quarterback Craig Myers and his offense came flying out of the blocks. Myers completed 4 of 5 passes all to different receivers on the opening drive. This set up running back Cecil Fleming’s opening touchdown run from a yard out. Two possessions later, South Hills tied the score with a long drive of their own. Claremont’s offense was stymied after its hot start, with Myers’ pass on the third possession being batted into the air and picked off for the first turnover of the game.

Special teams players also made some big plays. South Hills’ punt returner mishandled two long punts in a row, but Claremont was unable to wrangle back possession. During one punt, Wolfpack Christian Bagnerise timed his tackle to perfection. At the exact moment the Huskies’ returner caught the punt, Bagnerise launched his shoulders at his midsection. It was a clean hit. The ball was jarred loose, but South Hills was able to recover.

The play injected lifeblood into the CHS defense. Two plays later, defensive tackle Andrew Hwang shoved off his blocker, got into the backfield, and brought down the quarterback for a sack. With 2 minutes left in the half, Hwang again got the quarterback. This resulted in a forced pass, and nose guard Hector Meza was right there to intercept the ball.

Claremont took over possession on South Hills’ 42-yard line. Myers dropped back on second down, saw his receivers covered, and scrambled 35 yards to make it first and goal for CHS. He then hit Paul Manus on a slant to even the score at 14, with the travelling fans going wild.

But on the next play, South Hills’ kick returner Jacob Farias broke right through Claremont’s kickoff coverage unit and took the ball to the house for a score. Coach Collins said afterward, “Their big kickoff return touchdown was what killed us a little bit. Instead of going into halftime with the momentum, we gave it right back to them.” However, the Wolfpack were will only down one possession, and still had a shot at beating the number 2 ranked team in the division.

The game lost its elasticity in the second half, as both teams’ defenses raised their standard of play. After a South Hills rushed for a touchdown, Myers hit Fleming in the flat with a short pass. Fleming did the rest. He juked past a couple of tacklers and sprinted 65 yards for the score. It was now 28-20 to South Hills.

In the fourth quarter, Claremont ran into more trouble. Myers looked to convert an important third down, but his pass was picked off again. The Huskies ran the interception back for “pick-six” touchdown. With the wind in their sails lost, Claremont gave up another big play when Goss found his running back Benny Garcia for a 40-yard touchdown pass. Claremont got a consolation score when Myers tucked the ball and ran it in.

Claremont will face a Damien Spartans team coming off of back-to-back losses in which they conceded at least 40 points in each. Damien is expected to favor their running game, averaging almost twice as many rushes than Claremont per game. Running back Travion Boykins and receiver Josh Savage have come up with Damien’s big plays this season. The game is this Friday, October 12 at 7 pm at Dick Larson Stadium.

—Chris Oakley

sports@claremont-courier.com

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