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Gelz, Clarence run past Lancaster in the rain; Two TDs, 211 yards lead Red Devils to 4-0

In the first half, the rain kept coming down, and Mike Gelz kept running for Clarence.

In the second half, the rain kept coming down, Clarence kept fumbling, but the Red Devils defense also kept stopping Lancaster.

In a Class AA South showdown of unbeaten top 10 large schools, No. 3 Clarence beat No. 7 Lancaster, 20-0, Friday night before a waterlogged crowd of about 2,000.

The host Red Devils (4-0), the defending champions of Class AA in Section VI, were as persistent as the heavy rains that soaked the field, running to two touchdowns in the first half and stifling any Lancaster attempt to move the ball in the second.

Gelz, the bruising, 6-foot-1, 240-pound senior who was a major part of last year's title team, ran for touchdowns of 8 and 58 yards in the second quarter to account for all of the Red Devils' meaningful scoring. Gelz ran 16 times for 158 yards in the first half and finished with 24 carries for 211.

With heavy sheets of rain drenching the field and the participants for much of the first half, Gelz came up with big runs to help Clarence take control. In the second half, Clarence fumbled the ball away to Lancaster four times, but the Red Devils simply did not allow the Redskins to move the ball down the muddy field.

"Mike's a mudder," said Clarence coach Mark Layer. "He really did a nice job carrying the ball. I told the kids afterward, we're going to hand Mike Gelz the ball whatever the situation is. We turned the ball over a little bit, but Mike kept pounding away and pounding away."

The Red Devils' first score came off a costly turnover by Lancaster (3-1). As Lancaster started a drive at its 8 early in the second quarter, junior linebacker Alec Dietsch did a great job in coverage and was in the right spot to pick off a pass by Lancaster senior quarterback Ryan Radke.

That started Clarence at the Lancaster 20 with 10:12 left in second, and three Gelz runs later the Red Devils had the lead. Gelz followed nice blocking out of the double-wing formation to get in for his 8-yard score.

Dietsch was part of a nice defensive stand to get the ball back for Clarence, and Gelz turned a short-yardage situation into a big scoring play soon after. On third-and-2 from the Clarence 42, Gelz took a handoff up the middle, got through fairly easily and was off on his 58-yard score.

"I do what I do every play, and try to get as many yards as I can," said Gelz, "and off to the races it was."

Nickolay Mohan added a 3-yard run for Clarence with 1:11 left.

Clarence's win sets up a major showdown next Saturday when it plays at No. 1 large school Orchard Park (4-0).

"They have some great players, but we're going to get in to the film room early [Saturday] and start preparing for them right away," said Gelz. "It's going to be a hard-hitting game. They want to get back at us. I think we want it more, though."

email: kmcshea@buffnews.com