WGH uses ground game to beat Boardman 16-7
Maurice Clarett rushed for 196 yards on 34 carries and scored two touchdowns.
By CHUCK HOUSTEAU
WARREN -- Warren Harding High football coach Thom McDaniels liked what he saw of Boardman's strategy in the first half so he decided to try his version in the second.
The result was offensive domination that resulted in a Maurice Clarett 8-yard touchdown run with 7 minutes, 24 seconds remaining to seal the Raiders' 16-7 victory over Boardman in a Division I playoff game Saturday at Mollenkopf Stadium.
Warren also routed Boardman earlier this season 43-28 after leading 36-0 at halftime.
This time, Warren led only 8-7 at halftime because Boardman portrayed a strong, patient running game that kept the ball away from the Raiders and the dangerous Clarett.
Play domination: Boardman ran 33 plays in the first half to nine for Warren.
"We thought we'd try a little role reversal after watching what Boardman did in the first half," McDaniels said. "We thought we'd give it to 13 [Clarett] a few times to see what we could do.
"We tried to break off the big plays in the first half," he added. "I think we used everything on our sheet, but it wasn't very successful."
Clarett's 96-yard touchdown run off right tackle was Warren's only offensive success in the first half.
Boardman was on its way to the first score of the game after driving from Warren's 43 to the 13. However, Brad Beck fumbled, and Rob Massucci recovered on the 4-yard line.
On the next play, Clarett raced off right tackle for his 96-yard touchdown. Warren misfired on a conversion pass from quarterback Mike Phillips to Prescott Burgess.
Game plan: Boardman maintained patience throughout the first half by keeping the ball on the ground with Beck and Evan Beard.
At the start of the second quarter, that strategy paid off as Boardman drove 42 yards after Beard recovered a Clarett fumble.
It looked like the Spartans scored on a 32-yard run by Beck, but it was called back on a holding penalty. However, on the next play, quarterback Tom Zetts hit Beard with a 39-yard pass to the 1-yard line. Zetts scored one play later on a quarterback sneak with 9:01 remaining in the half.
Ironically, Warren's next score was set up after Phillips was intercepted by Boardman's Brad Weiser at the Spartans' 1-yard line. After three running plays, Boardman attempted to punt, but punter Robbie Palma stepped on the end line while retrieving the snap, which resulted in a safety.
After touching the ball five times in the first half, Clarett was in on 28 of Warren's 40 plays in the second half. Clarett finished with 196 yards rushing on 34 carries.
Few plays: Beard and Beck only had five carries total in the second half as Boardman's offense had four possessions.
Despite Warren's dominance on the ground, it was a short pass from Mike Kokal to Danny Stella, who caught the ball at midfield and raced 40 yards to Boardman's 11. That led to the clinching touchdown.
"It was a great effort from our team," Boardman coach Garry Smith said. "Harding was able to do to us in the second half what we did in the first half, only they had a great player in Clarett carrying the ball."