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Prep Football: Alma starts slow, finishes fast

Alma made up for a slow start with a fast finish in the 5A-West opener in their swan song in the conference.

Alma scored four touchdowns and rolled up 208 yards of offense in the third quarter in a 47-0 win against Clarksville on Friday. Alma (2-2, 1-0 5A-West) improved to 18-4 in their last 22 conference openers.

“We put together a good half in the second half,” Alma head coach Doug Loughridge said. “We loosened them up and were able to throw it.”

Malachi White followed Tres Garrett into the end zone from a yard out to start the onslaught with 7:08 left in the third quarter. Evan Burris set up the short touchdown run with a 43-yard pass to older brother Alex.

Two plays later, Jake Marrs pounced on a Clarksville fumble and Burris immediately threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jake Folkerts for Alma’s second touchdown in 27 seconds.

The Airedales forced Clarksville to punt and the Curtis Lloyd scored on a 1-yard run just four plays later for a 33-0 lead with 3:33 left in the third quarter.

After forcing Clarksville (1-3, 0-1) into its seventh three-and-out, White scored on a 2-yard run with 15 seconds left in the quarter. Alex Benuex had runs of 12 and 27 yards for first downs on the drive and Lloyd added a 21-yard scamper.

Tyler Newman added a fourth-quarter touchdown on a 45-yard run after taking the forward toss on a sweep to make if a perfect five-for-five on possessions in the second half for the Airedales.

Alma racked up 222 yards in the first half, but managed just one touchdown on a 12-yard run by White and field goals of 25 and 35 yards by Seth Linker.

“Our defense kept us in the ballgame the first half, here at Alma,” Clarksville head coach Michael Banning said. “We gave up one score, a 2-point conversion and two field goals. The defense played well again, but we just cannot get the ball into the end zone. We didn’t get it past the 50-yard line. Our inability on offense is putting a lot of pressure on our football team.”

Alma rolled in the second half, though.

“It took us a half,” Loughridge said. “That’s the story of the last two weeks. We moved the football but haven’t capitalized. Getting into the end zone is contagious. Hopefully, once they see what it feels like, we’ll get it going.”

Alma bottled Clarksville up all night, allowing just 47 offensive yards on 33 plays through three quarters and kept the Panthers from crossing midfield until the fourth quarter.

“The defense played great, and the special teams,” Loughridge said. “We got the touchdown and two big field goals in the first half. The kids didn’t hit the panic mode, and they hung in there.”

Alma finished with 480 yards, including 250 on the ground and 230 through the air with Burris completing 13-of-21 passes for 185 yards. Beneux led Alma’s ground assault with 89 yards on nine carries. White added 16 carries for 68 yards and three touchdowns.

“We challenged the offensive linemen this week,” Loughridge said. “It’s taken a while for our offense to get clicking, but once they do I think great things are going to come.”

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