Rain delayed the start of Clinton’s home opener by thirty-five minutes on Friday night and the Spartans of Smithfield Selma probably wish that they could have canceled the start altogether.
It seemed the Spartans could do nothing right and the Dark Horses could do no wrong. The Horses’ defense returned an interception for a touchdown, there were two special teams scores and the high powered offense found the end zone five times, four in the first half, shellacking the Spartans 48-7.
It took the Dark Horses less than four minutes to score when Jeremiah Pope picked off a badly overthrown Spartan pass and took it 37 yards to the end zone. When Chandler Perry added the extra point to give Clinton the 7-0 lead at 8:20 mark of the first quarter.
Clinton’s defense took the ball away on the next possession, when Herbert Faison forced a fumble deep in the Spartan’s end of the field that was recovered by Devonte Smith at the Spartan five yard line. The Dark Horse offense quickly capitalized on the turnover, with Ryheem Skinner carrying the ball into the end zone for the first of his three touchdowns on the night, giving Clinton a 13-7 lead after Perry’s extra point kick sailed wide left at 6:39 in the first quarter.
Things went from bad to worse for the Spartans when their next drive ended with a punt after three plays. Tyion Wright caught the punt and darted 45 yards for Clinton’s third score of the game, putting the horses in command at 20-0 with 4:26 left in the first quarter.
The sole bright spot of the night for the Spartans came on the ensuing kickoff when Jamie Durham took Perry’s kick and dashed down the sideline for a 91-yard touchdown run. The play gave Smithfield-Selma a ray of hope, cutting the Clinton lead to 20-7 at the 4:08 mark of the first quarter. That ray of hope was extinguished quickly, as Ryheem Skinner took the ball off tackle for his second carry of the night and scampered 49 yards into the endzone giving Clinton the 28-7 lead after a successful two-point conversion by Kris Williams with 3:39 left in the first.
The Horses found pay dirt again when Skinner scored his third touchdown on as many carries, bursting over the right side of the line, breaking free of two Spartan defenders and racing 67 yards for the score. Skinner’s third score gave Clinton a 35-7 lead with 35 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Tyion Wright rung the bell again with his second punt return touchdown of the game with 9:27 remaining in the first half to give Clinton a 42-7 lead after Chandler Perry tacked on the extra point. The teams would trade a punt apiece to wrap up the first half and send the teams to the locker room with the Horses holding the commanding 42-7 advantage.
The game clock was set to continuous run in the second half and Clinton played the reserves for the remainder of the game giving valuable playing time to players who had not seen as much action. The Horses posted their final score of the game when Freshman fullback Jalen Smith rambled in from the one yard line, giving Clinton a 48-7 lead after Perry’s kick was wide left and no good with 6:14 remaining in the third quarter.
The remainder of the game was basically a live practice for the Dark Horse reserves. After the game Clinton head coach Bob Lewis said, “one of the good things tonight is we got to play everybody, they got a little experience and that always helps our depth. The other positive is nobody got hurt so we came out of it fine. We will face a much tougher test in a couple of weeks when we go to Hoggard.”
Clinton’s defense played lights out, allowing just 88 yards of total offense and forcing two turnovers, a fumble and interception with both resulting in touchdowns. Zion Autry posted 6 stops for the Horses and Isaiah Page and A J Williamson were each credited with 5 tackles.
Offensively the Dark Horses posted 225 yards of total offense, all on the ground. Ryheem Skinner lead the way, running for 122 yards and three touchdowns on three carries, all in the first half. Derek Bryant rushed 6 times for 48 yards and Emari Oates had three touches for 24 yards. Jalen Smith added 12 yards on three carries and one touchdown.
The Dark Horses improve to 2-0 on the season with the win over Smithfield Selma and are idle next week before traveling to 4-A Hoggard for their final non-conference game of the season.