Hey, Clarke offensive linemen: running back Aaron Dawson has some good news.
"I'm going to treat them one day soon," Dawson said Saturday. "I'm going to buy them some food or something because they really play pretty good."
Behind the gaps provided by the offensive line, Dawson ran for 163 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries as Clarke beat host Malverne, 20-6, in Conference IV.
Dawson broke a 70-yard touchdown run on a sweep to the left side to give Clarke a 13-6 lead with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter. Dawson went untouched after he burst through a huge hole opened by offensive linemen Mark Vasquez and Phil Kandel at the line of scrimmage.
"When I looked up, it was wide open. I wasn't really surprised because our line is that good," Dawson said. "I just turned on the jets when I was down field. The hole was very open and I had to take advantage of it."
Then it was Clarke quarterback John Zaino's turn to take advantage of Dawson.
Clarke's defense forced a quick three-and-out after Dawson's touchdown run. On the second play of the ensuing drive, Zaino hit receiver Tyler Constantine in stride up the middle on a pretty play-action pass for a 36-yard touchdown with 6:19 left.
"Aaron's running sets up the play-action perfectly and when our offensive line gives us that time, I just have to hit him," Zaino said. "I've been throwing that play for years and it was just a matter of getting my timing down and I finally got it today."
Clarke's offense prowess, according to coach John Boyle, was the product of Clarke's defense.
"Malverne has some explosive players so we had to watch so we needed a collective effort," Boyle said. "Our defensive bent, but they never broke. It set the tone for the offense in the second half."
Quarterback Bryce Todd is one of those playmakers for Malverne (1-1). Todd completed 11 of 21 passes for 135 yards and ran for 127 yards and one touchdown on 12 carries.
Todd's 42-yard run cut the deficit to 7-6 midway through the second quarter, but Clarke's defense then made key stops on three critical fourth down plays in the second half to seal the win.
Linebacker Danny Cornell led the Rams with eight tackles, including one sack, and Constantine added seven tackles.
"Six points in eight quarters," Zaino said, referencing the Rams' 42-0 win against Cold Spring Harbor. "They were outstanding."
So was Dawson, who racked up 120 rushing yards in the second half.
"That was the game plan," Boyle said. "We wanted him to become that sort of back today."
"We just played harder," Dawson said, again deflecting praise to the linemen. "The second half was just our half."
And so was the game.