Clinton’s football team returned home after playing two straight road games to host cross county rival Midway on Thursday night. The game was moved forward due to weather concerns associated with the impending arrival of Hurricane Matthew. Shortly after kickoff the Raiders probably felt as if they were in the eye of the storm. The Dark Horses pummelled the Raiders right out of the gates, taking a 20-0 first quarter lead on their way to a 50-0 rout of the visitors.
The Dark Horses scored twice before the Raiders picked up a first down as the Clinton defense forced Midway punts on the first two Raider possessions. Tyion Wright put the first Dark Horse score on the board when he ran, untouched, around the right end for a 12-yard touchdown at the 9:41 mark of the first quarter. Chandler Perry added the PAT to give Clinton the 7-0 lead. Ryheem Skinner got the second Clinton score with a 16-yard blast over left tackle to give the Dark Horses a 14-0 advantage after Perry’s successful PAT with 5:41 left in the first quarter.
The Raiders finally had some offensive success, gaining their first, 1st down and moving the ball out to the Clinton 35-yard line. Unfortunately for the Raiders, the Dark Horses stripped the ball away from a Midway runner on the next play. Khari Williams scooped up the loose ball and scampered 30 yards for a touchdown with seven seconds remaining in the first quarter. Chandler Perry’s PAT sailed wide right, but the Horses held a commanding 20-0 lead.
The Dark Horses forced another Raider punt early in the second quarter but the Clinton offense sputtered for the first time when Midway forced and recovered a fumble to get their best field position of the night at their own 41-yard line. Midway was unable to capitalize on the Dark Horse miscue and punted the ball back to Clinton. It didn’t take the home team long to find the end zone again, moving quickly into the red zone. On first down at the Midway 25-yard line Kris Williams dropped back and found a wide open Prentice Murphy for the first of two touchdown passes on the night. Chandler Perry added the PAT kick to lift Clinton to a 27-0 lead with 5:02 remaining in the half.
Once again the Clinton defense stuffed the Raider offensive efforts, forcing another Raider punt. Chris Williams fielded the punt and weaved through traffic, returning the punt 35 yards, down to the Raider’s 38-yard line. On second down, the Dark Horse signal-caller ran the option around left end and opted to keep the ball, dashing 36 yards into the corner of the end zone for another Clinton score. Perry tacked on the extra point to extend the Clinton lead to 34-0 at the 2:28 mark of the second quarter to wrap up the first half scoring.
Midway attempted an onside kick to open the second half, but the Dark Horses were prepared, as Trey Warren covered the kick to give Clinton good field position. The Horses started at their own 41- yard line for their opening drive of the second half and three minutes later Williams capped the 59-yard scoring march when he found Mike Kramer in the back of the end zone with a 5-yard scoring strike. The PAT attempt was foiled by a low snap that resulted in Chandler Perry being dropped in the backfield. The Kramer score moved the lead to 40-0 at the 9-minute mark of the third quarter.
On the ensuing possession, the Raiders turned the ball over to the Dark Horses after being unable to gain any yardage on four downs. Even with the reserves taking over on offense, Clinton was able to gain yardage in chunks. AJ Williamson broke off a nice run and Shameek Darby pounded the middle of the line, moving the ball deep into Raider territory before the Dark Horse offense stalled at the Midway 25-yard line. Chandler Perry trotted on and calmly nailed a 32-yard field goal to extend the Clinton lead to 43-0 with 3:09 remaining in the third quarter. With the Clinton lead exceeding 42 points the game clock was set to continuously run for the remainder of the game.
Midway got some offensive fireworks on their next possession when quarterback Austin Raynor found Carsse Lucas along the sideline for a long gain, setting the Raiders up on first down at the Dark Horse 15-yard line. On third down, Raynor dropped back and fired a pass that was intercepted by Wright at the 5-yard line. Wright sped down the sideline, escorted by two blockers, and 95 yards later was into the end zone with his second touchdown of the game. Wright’s score and a successful Perry PAT gave Clinton their final margin of victory, at 50-0 with 10:11 seconds remaining in the game.
After the game Clinton head coach Bob Lewis commented on his team’s dominating performance, saying “this was a good team win. It is a conference win and puts us one game closer to our goal of winning a conference championship.” Lewis quickly looked forward to next week’s game with 5-2 Union, noting “Union has some good athletes and we will have to work hard this week to get ready for them. They are having a good season and present a challenge for us.”
Midway head coach Jason Fussell talked briefly about the tough loss, saying “we are playing a lot of freshmen and sophomores, and Clinton is junior and senior heavy. That difference in experience really showed tonight. We will keep working and hopefully keep improving each week.”
Clinton’s offense was led by Williams and Skinner. Williams had a productive passing performance, going 4 of 6 for 61 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Williams also ran for 36 yards and one touchdown. Skinner carried the ball 10 times for 94 yards and a touchdown, Wright added 37 yards on five carries with one touchdown and Smith had seven touches for 61 yards. Prentice Murphy caught one pass for 25 yards and a touchdown, Mike Kramer had two grasps for 20 yards and a touchdown and Wright had one catch for 16 yards.
Defensively, the Dark Horses were led by Mike Kramer with 12 tackles. Isaiah Page and Devonte Smith each had nine tackles and Prentice Murphy added eight tackles with two sacks. Williams recovered a fumble that he returned 30 yards for a touchdown and Wright scored a defensive touchdown with his 95 yard interception return. The Dark Horse defense pitched its third shutout of the season and has allowed only 36 points all year.
The win improves Clinton to 7-0 overall and 3-0 in Four County Conference play. The Dark Horses play host to Union next Friday with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. Midway falls to 3-4 overall and 0-3 in conference play. The Raiders return home next week to host Wallace-Rose Hill, also scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.