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McClave defenders Tuff Kelley (#23) and Zack Owens (#55) stop a Merino touchdown during 2nd quarter action in Merino. The Cards lost in the first round of the 8-Man State Playoffs to Merino, 16-12.

Season Ends for McClave with Loss to Merino

By John Contreras

November 10, 2023

The football season came to a bitter end for the McClave Cardinals football team in the first-round of the Class 1A 6-Man State Playoffs.

The #10 seed Cardinals made a trip to Merino to face the No. 7 seed Rams on Saturday, Nov. 4.

The two teams battled to the very end as Merino scored with under a minute left in the contest to rally for a 16-12 victory.

The Rams struck early against the Cardinals with a 60-yard rushing touchdown from junior quarterback Coen Schmidt and a two-point conversion to take an 8-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

McClave’s Gavin Tempel answered with a long run of his own as he scampered 49 yards to paydirt. Tthe PAT failed to make it 8-6 at the start of the second quarter.

That score stood at the end of the first half.

With four minutes into the third quarter, Tempel found the endzone again on a two-yard run to give the Cardinals a 12-8 lead.

With under a minute remaining in regulation, Schmidt came to the rescue for the Rams as he fired an 8-yard TD strike to Jacob Frank. The Rams successfully converted a two-point conversion to bring the final score to 16-12.

McClave capped their best season in recent years with a 7-3 record. The Cardinals won the Arkansas Valley League championship with a 5-0 record.

The win was the fourth straight for Merino and avenged a 16-8 loss to McClave in the second game of the regular season on Sept. 1 in McClave.

The Rams (6-4) will travel to face No. 2 seed and unbeaten Simla (10-0) at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov 10.

The Cubs dominated No. 15 seed Front Range Christian, 42-0, in their first-round matchup.

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