Clarkston — No. 19 Bloomfield Hills took a trip to Clarkston on Friday night with a plan on pulling off its second straight major upset.
Clarkston senior running back Michael Fluegel wouldn’t let it happen, running for 53 yards to set up one fourth-quarter touchdown, then a 21-yarder to set up another for the difference in a 34-20 Oakland Activities Association Red Division victory.
Clarkston senior quarterback Nate Uballe took advantage of Fluegel’s running both times, finding Tieler Houston for a 14-yard touchdown pass to pull even at 20, then hitting Joshua Cantu on a screen pass for a 23-yard touchdown for a 27-20 lead with 6:05 remaining.
Cantu, who had four touchdowns, put the game out of a reach on a 55-yard touchdown run with 2:52 remaining. He finished with 145 yards on 22 carries.
“We fought through some adversity,” Clarkston coach Kurt Richardson said.
Clarkston (3-0) — ranked No. 6 in The News' Super 20 poll — came up with the big plays defensively as well, with Stewart Newblatt pressuring John Paddock for a third down incompletion to set up Fluegel’s long run on the reverse, then getting a sack after Clarkston took the 27-20 advantage. He finished with three sacks.
On the reverse, Fluegel said: “It felt great to get the big run on that sweet play, a big turning point.”
Bloomfield Hills, moving up two divisions to the OAA Red this season after winning the Blue with an 9-0 regular season, came back from a 24-7 fourth-quarter deficit to beat West Bloomfield, 28-24, last week.
Paddock, a Ball State commit, and standout receiver Ty Slazinski were at it again after combining 13 times for 187 yards through the passing game against West Bloomfield.
Again, Paddock led Bloomfield Hills back from a deficit, battling back from a 13-0 first-quarter deficit to take a 20-13 lead with 11:08 left on Paddock’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Slazinski in the right corner of the end zone. It was his 14th reception.
Clarkston came right back with Fluegel busting loose for 53 yards on a reverse to set up Uballe’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Houston to pull even at 20 with 9:01 remaining.
Clarkston had great field position on its first three drives, taking advantage of two in the opening quarter to lead, 13-0.
Bloomfield Hills moved into Clarkston territory on the game’s opening drive, but Newblatt sacked quarterback Paddock, forcing a punt, which Joshua Luther returned 73 yards to the 1 to set up Cantu’s touchdown run. Then, Clarkston started from its 47 on its second drive after forcing a punt, then pounding the ball on the ground to open up the 13-0 lead on Cantu’s second touchdown run, this one coming on a 5-yard run with 2:55 left in the quarter.
Clarkston looked well on the way to breaking the game open when it started its third drive from the Bloomfield Hills 40 when Fluegel made a one-handed grab off a pass from Uballe and was headed toward the end zone. But the ball was punched loose, going out of the end zone to end the threat.
Paddock made sure Bloomfield Hills would take advantage of the turnover, leading an 80-yard drive, completing all three of his passes for 31 yards to set up Grant Fox’s 6-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 13-7 with 7:46 left in the half.