For three-and-a-half quarters Friday, the Clarkston and Moscow football teams were almost identical in their back-and-forth battle, right down to their similar red, black and white uniforms.
But the Bantams took advantage of a late interception by Austin Amrstrong and a blocked punt deep in Moscow territory to pull out a 42-28 win at Bear Field.
“Props to Moscow,” Clarkston coach Brycen Bye said. “They brought it … We knew it was going to be a fight. Could’ve went either way and we found a way to seal the deal at the end there.”
The teams’ similarities stretched across all facets of the game.
On defense, Moscow had Kaden Kiblin’s 65-yard fumble return for the first touchdown of the game three minutes in. For Clarkston, the biggest play was Armstrong’s interception early in the fourth quarter, with the Bantams up by a touchdown.
On offense, both teams featured a quarterback-receiver connection that torched the opposing defense.
Clarkston quarterback Kaeden Frazier threw three of his four touchdown passes to fellow senior Tru Allen — all for 26 or more yards. Frazier amassed 214 yards, 109 of them to his favorite target.
“Kaeden’s been throwing to (Allen) for three years now,” Bye said of his two seniors. “They have a good connection. Tru trusts him.”
Moscow junior quarterback Chad Redinger threw for 190 yards, 102 of those yards and two scores going to senior receiver Brayden Decker. Decker’s 41-yard juke-and-jive touchdown scamper put Moscow within one at 21-20 midway through the third quarter in arguably the play of the game for the Bears.
This was the game in a nutshell — every time one team scored, the other would strike back.
“I thought it was two good football teams battling,” Moscow coach Phil Helbling said. “We expected it to be a great game. You know what you’re going to get out of Clarkston. They’re always tough.”
Clarkston’s first touchdown was a sign of things to come. Frazier launched the ball deep down the right sideline, where Allen caught it for a 27-yard score despite lockdown defense by Moscow.
At the end of the first, it was 7-7.
But Moscow (1-1) bounced back with a long drive of its own, capped by a spinning 3-yard touchdown run by Redinger.
Clarkston’s next drive ended similarly to its first: Frazier to Allen on a 26-yard out route. Clarkston (1-0) scored again to carry a 21-14 lead into halftime.
The teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter and Moscow tied it at 28 early in the fourth. Redinger found Decker for a 13-yard touchdown on a short slant, then connected with Jonah Ellis on a two-point conversion for the tie.
Clarkston took the lead for good midway through the quarter on Frazier’s 18-yard pass to Kyden Bailey up the middle.
From there, Moscow struggled to get out of its own territory.
Redinger went down with an apparent left hamstring injury late in the fourth quarter on a bobbled snap that put Moscow down at its own 1-yard line. Clarkston blocked the ensuing punt and scored its final touchdown on a 1-yard run by Eddie Berglund, his second of the day.
Redinger left the field under his own power and stood on the sideline near a trainer for the remainder of the game.
“It really was one of those games that was back and forth, but we made the big plays when we needed to,” Bye said.
Clarkston 7 14 7 14—42
Moscow 7 7 6 8 — 28
Moscow — Kaden Kiblen 65 fumble return (Ben Postell kick), 9:27
Clarkston — Tru Allen 27 pass from Kaeden Frazier (Steve Baiye kick), 2:57
Moscow — Chad Redinger 3 run (Postell kick), 9:50.
Clarkston — Allen 26 pass from Frazier (Baiye kick), 6:23.
Clarkston — Eddie Berglund 9 run (Baiye kick), 1:34.
Moscow — Brayden Decker 41 pass from Redinger (pass failed), 5:45.
Clarkston — Allen 28 pass from Frazier (Baiye kick), 2:46.
Moscow — Decker 13 pass from Redinger (Jonah Elliss pass), 11:52.
Clarkston — Kyden Bailey 18 pass from Frazier (Baiye kick), 8:07.
Clarkston — Berglund 1 run (Baiye kick), 2:42.
RUSHING — Clarkston: Will Sliger 11-49, Berglund 9-42, Frazier, 9-0. Moscow: Redinger 18-43, Brandon Suquet 4-19, Lane Hanson 3-14, Logan Shears 2-7, Trevor Dismukes 1-5.
PASSING — Clarkston: Frazier 20-29-0—214. Moscow: Redinger 15-27-1—190, Hanson 1-2-0—(-9).
RECEIVING — Clarkston: Allen 9-109, Austin 6-57, Baiye 3-28, Bailey 1-18, Hoffman 1-2. Moscow: Decker 7-102, Shears 4-43, Elliss 2-21, Postell 1-9, Suquet 2-6.
Stephan Wiebe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at @StephanSports.