The wait didn’t last very long.
On Saturday afternoon at Dalzell Field, the Clarke University football team earned its first victory in just its seventh game as a program. The Pride edged Peru State, 18-17, after an offensive stalemate in the second half.
“For me, it feels like a great job,” Clarke coach Miguel Regalado said. “I’m extremely excited for the kids and Clarke. Clarke has been waiting for this as long as I have, but we’re going to be up at the same time tomorrow morning getting ready for Graceland.”
Leading the charge for the Pride was middle linebacker Jacob Handley, who logged six total tackles, including two solos.
“We worked hard all week and the bye week gave us a little extra time to lock in,” Handley said. “I feel like we executed our game plan perfectly.”
In the second half, neither team was able to find the endzone or get into field goal range.
“The offense was moving the chains the whole day,” Handley said. “We had one of our best performances on offense. And our defense was lights out all game.”
The Pride defense stopped a special teams play just before halftime to stymie a Bobcat drive in the red zone.
The first half saw quite a bit of back and forth. Kenyon Williams found Max Steffen for a 20-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring for the Pride, but they could not complete the two-point conversion pass.
Peru State’s John Brady opened the scoring for the Bobcats with a 22-yard field goal with 5:35 to go in the first quarter. Ki’Jana Owens scampered in from four yards out to extend the Bobcats’ lead to 10-6 with 12:13 left in the second quarter.
Williams completed a 16-yard pass to Jacob Rosario to put the Pride back on top 12-10 after another failed two-point conversion pass attempt with eight minutes left in the first half.
J’Lon Horton rumbled into the end zone after a 4-yard carry to get the Bobcats back in front of the Pride 17-12.
Williams closed out the scoring for the game after he found Riley Langford in the end zone as time expired in the first half to put the Pride back in front.
After the score by Langford, the Pride held strong in the second half. The final offensive play from Peru State was a last-chance pass attempt the Pride broke through the offensive line and sacked quarterback Harry Kanu for a huge loss on fourth and long.
Clarke improved to 1-6 overall, 1-0 in conference and will get back to work turning its attention toward a struggling winless Graceland.