It didn't take long for Clarke's Aaron Dawson to establish himself Saturday.
On the game's first play, Dawson took a pitch through a gaping hole created by offensive linemen Mike Piscetelli and James Volino and broke a tackle at Clarke's 45-yard line before finishing a 72-yard touchdown -- his first of five scores en route to the Rams' 42-14 home victory over West Hempstead in Nassau IV.
"Once we started like that," Dawson said, "it changed the whole momentum of the game."
Specifically, Dawson changed the momentum. And he changed the Clarke record books. His five rushing touchdowns and 260 rushing yards tied 1972 Thorp Award winner Larry Esposito's school records, according to coach John Boyle.
"Aaron's had some good games the last couple of weeks but he needed to have a good game against a good team," Boyle said. "And that's what we told him coming in because West Hempstead's a good team."
After Clarke's opening score, West Hempstead (4-3) picked up three first downs before Robert Ciorciari intercepted Ryan Sandberg on a fourth-and-6.
Following the interception, quarterback Corey Rosenbloom led a 10-play, 86-yard drive. Rosenbloom kept the drive alive with two key third-down conversions; first with a 30-yard draw up the middle on a third-and-7 and getting a third-and-15 pass interference on a throw to Sean Fitch. Rosenbloom finished the drive with a 21-yard score.
On that touchdown, one of his lead blockers happened to be the guy setting records.
"On the plays when I keep the ball, I could literally just put my hand on Aaron's back and I know he's going to lead me through the hole and nail someone," Rosenbloom said.
Clarke (5-2) scored on its next possession when Dawson took a sweep 39 yards down the middle of the field as Clarke took a 21-0 lead into halftime.
"The whole week we were trying to play more physical than other weeks and clearly, I think we played a lot more physical because Aaron and Corey ran for a lot of touchdowns today," Volino said.
West Hempstead wasn't going to be pushed around to open the second half though. Noel Beaubrun took the opening kick to the 47-yard line, which resulted in an 11-play drive, capped by Vincent Messina's 3-yard touchdown run.
But the comeback hopes were short lived.
Dawson took the next play from scrimmage 56 yards to the end zone. After Clarke recovered a fumble on the following kickoff, Dawson scored on a 5-yard wildcat run to give the Rams a 35-7 lead.
Again, West Hempstead fought back. And again, Dawson crushed all hope.
West Hempstead's Nicholas Margaraci reeled in a 31-yard TD from Sandberg only for Dawson to respond with a 57-yard score -- his fifth of the game and third score of more than 50 yards -- two plays later.
"I just wanted five touchdowns one game and I got it," Dawson, a senior, said. "The line worked really hard. I have to thank my lineman. Without them, I'm nothing. For real."