October 17, 2012 - When the number one- and two-ranked undefeated football teams in the state clash, it can only mean something had to give.
Dominick Giovinazzo runs for Lake Orionís second touchdown. Photo by G. Ouzounian
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There could be only one undefeated team and after the unstoppable force of Orion's running backs met Clarkston's seemingly unmovable defensive line, the Wolves walked away the victors.
It all came down to the final seconds of the game when Clarkston surprised Orion with a TD and two-point conversion to win, 21-14.
The teams were probably the most equally-matched either had faced. Orion finished with 237 total yards to Clarkston's 240.
Neither team scored in the first quarter, but the Dragons got into the end zone early in the second when Jacob Miller scored on a 10-yard TD. Clarkston was quick to answer with a 38-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3.
Orion scored in the third quarter on a 35-yard TD run by Dominick Giovinazzo to go ahead 14-3.
The Wolves again roared back shortly before halftime on a five-yard run by Ian Eriksen to cut the lead to 14-10.
From there the game was downhill for the Dragons. Clarkston had a long drive and a field goal from 37-yards out to cut the lead to 14-13 in the third quarter.
After a missed field goal by Orion from 45 yards in the fourth quarter, the Wolves went on their game-winning drive late in the game.
The drive included two fourth-down-and-one conversions. The big play was a 37-yard completion that gave the Wolves a first down on the Dragons' 15 yard line late in the fourth quarter.
Eriksen's touchdown and a two-point conversion with only 16 seconds left doomed the Dragons.
Head Coach Chris Bell said his team came up short in a few key areas.
"We weren't good at special teams and we gave up two long kick returns - we can't do that," said Bell."We got inside the 20 on offense twice and came away with zero points - we can't do that. We didn't do a good job stopping the run in the second half - we can't do that. We gave away a long pass and we can't do that either when it counts."
"Several things happened. If we make any of those plays it's a different ball game. So shame on us but hopefully we will see them again and get another shot at them."
Orion's rushing was led by Miller with 82 yards while Giovinazzo had 56 and junior Cory Ester added 16.
Senior quarterback Derek DeLaura threw for 68 yards to senior Chaz Miller (44 yards), Jacob Miller (21 yards) and Ester (3 yards.)
The league title may have eluded the Dragons this year, but the playoffs lie ahead for the 7-1 team.
First however is a game at Farmington on Friday at 7 p.m.
With the league title out of their grasp, the Dragons now must prepare for the state playoffs. .
"Their offensive line did a nice job, (Eriksen) did a nice job but we have to go back and look at the film and we just have to get better," said Bell.