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Clarkston's Caine Watlington (1) celebrates with a host of teammates after recovering a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown during regional final football action against Rochester Adams at Clarkston Saturday. Clarkston would go on to win the game 56-28. (For The Oakland Press/LARRY McKEE)
FOOTBALL: Clarkston crushes Adams, rolls into D1 semifinal WATCH HERE
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Rochester Adams' Steven Milke (8) goes up for a catch in traffic while being hit by Clarkston's Austin Egler (18) during the regional final Saturday. Clarkston's Kas Waitkus (34), Clarkston, is also pictured. (For The Oakland Press/LARRY McKEE)
Rochester Adams' Jordan Shive has a pass slip through his hands Saturday afternoon. (For The Oakland Press/LARRY McKEE)
CLARKSTON – The feeling was different, the attitude was different, and the balance on offense certainly was different.
Taking all that into consideration, it is no wonder the result was different.
Clarkston’s season-opening loss to Rochester Adams 11 weeks ago seemed like 11 years ago on Saturday, as the Wolves earned their payback with a 56-28 rout of Adams in a Division 1 regional final.
More important than revenge, the Wolves as a program earned another chance to get their semifinal monkey off of their back.
Losers in the semifinals all three times in Kurt Richardson’s tenure as head coach, Clarkston will attempt to advance to the state finals for the first time in school history when it takes on Flint Carman-Ainsworth in a 1 p.m. Division 1 semifinal on Saturday at Lake Orion.
“In the first game, to be honest, something felt weird,” Clarkston junior quarterback D.J. Zezula said. “Everyone knew it and everyone was like ‘where’s the energy.’ But revenge is great.”
It was also swift, because Clarkston scored 14 points before Adams touched the ball on offense and had a 20-0 lead early before the game was even six minutes old.
Zezula certainly wasn’t as locked in during the first meeting in Week 1 as he is now, and that was sure evident in the first half.
By halftime, Zezula was 9-of-10 passing for 210 yards and two touchdowns, one of which was a 70-yard bomb to senior wideout Tim Cason that put Clarkston up 20-0 with 6:21 left in the first quarter.
Clarkston had taken a 7-0 lead with 9:04 left in the first on a 1-yard touchdown run by senior Ian Eriksen, and then after the Wolves recovered a loose ball on a pooched kickoff, Eriksen scored again from 2 yards out to make it 14-0 with 8:09 left in the first.
“Our offensive guys have done a great job with adjustments and D.J. has been phenomenal,” Clarkston head coach Kurt Richardson said. “But it all starts with the protection. He had all day to throw.”
The teams traded two touchdowns apiece from there and Clarkston held a 35-14 lead at halftime, and then the roof caved in on Adams immediately in the second half.
On the first play of the third quarter, a fumbled snap squirted all the way from the Adams 18-yard line into the end zone, where Clarkston senior Caine Watlington fell on it for a touchdown and a 42-14 lead.
Following an Adams punt, Clarkston then took a 49-14 lead with 9:55 left in the third quarter on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Zezula to Cason.
As if the rout wasn’t on enough at that point, it further became so when Clarkston’s Reid Kaminski returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown with 8:43 remaining in the third quarter to make it 56-14 Wolves, who got the luxury of resting starters for next week in the third quarter.
While Clarkston will move on to the semifinals, Adams completed a nice bounce-back season at 8-4 after missing the playoffs for the first time in 15 years last year.
Junior running back Clarence Broadnax finished with 102 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries for Adams, which has a bright future with so many non-seniors on the roster.
“It wasn’t a moral victory,” Adams head coach Tony Patritto said. “But we had freshman and JV guys come into this game. So yeah, we want to think we can get back to where we were and we are going to work really hard to get there.”
CLARKSTON 56, ROCHESTER ADAMS 28
A 7 7 7 7 - 28
C 20 15 21 0 - 56
C – Ian Eriksen 1 run (Shane Hynes kick)
C – Eriksen 2 run (Hynes kick)
C – Tim Cason 70 pass from D.J. Zezula (kick failed)
A – Clarence Broadnax 1 run (Spencer Ward kick)
C – Eriksen 11 run (Shane Holler pass from Zezula)
A – Jordan Shive 35 pass from Kyle Wood (Ward kick)
C – Austin Egler 6 pass from Zezula (Hynes kick)
C – Caine Watlington fumble recovery in end zone (Hynes kick)
C – Cason 27 pass from Zezula (Hynes kick)
C – Reid Kaminski 31 interception return (Hynes kick)
A – Broadnax 21 run (Ward kick)
A – Parker Monahan 15 run (Ward kick)
RECORDS – Clarkston 11-1; Adams 8-4
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