At kickoff of the game on Saturday night it looked as if the athletic administrators at Clinton and East Bladen needed to take up weather forecasting. After deciding to reschedule the game from Friday to Saturday due to rain, the skies were blue and the setting sun was shining across the field as the fans filed into Dark Horse Stadium. It wasn’t long before the two teams gave those fans something to cheer about besides the break in the weather.
After an opening kickoff procedure penalty on the Dark Horses was sorted out, the teams settled into a first quarter track meet of a football game, that produced scores in bunches in the early going. Finally, the Clinton defense got a couple of stops as the Horses’ offense continued to pour it on, pulling away for the 49-19 win over the previously unbeaten Eagles.
Clinton’s coaching staff called for a short pooch kick to open the game and it appeared for a moment that they had pulled off quite a start. Chandler Perry deftly popped a perfect kick over the front line of the Eagles receiving team that Albert Deaver ran under and caught on the fly giving Clinton possession of the ball, or so it appeared. After several minutes of deliberations the game officials flagged Clinton for illegal procedure, explaining that since the ball never touched the ground Horses had committed the penalty and were forced to re-kick.
East Bladen covered Perry’s second kick, and started the game by driving the ball inside the Clinton 30-yard line before their drive stalled after a couple of holding penalties negated big gains. Aided by the Eagle miscues the Dark Horse defense turned East Bladen over on downs and gave the ball to the offense for the first possession of the night.
It did not take long for Clinton to strike. On their second play from scrimmage Tyion Wright swept around the right end and didn’t slow down until he crossed the goal line 68 yards later with the Dark Horses first points at the 8:50 mark of the first quarter. Chandler Perry added the PAT kick to give Clinton the early 7-0 lead.
East Bladen quickly answered Clinton’s score when Ethan Hines picked up the ensuing kick at his own 11-yard line and took it 89-yards for the score to tie the game at seven apiece after the successful PAT kick with 7:34 remaining in the first quarter.
On their ensuing possession the Dark Horses called on Wright again and he answered the call. Wright gashed the Eagles defense for a long gain down to the East Bladen 15-yard line to put the Horses on the doorstep once again. After an offsides penalty against the Eagles, Wright took a toss sweep in into the right corner of the end zone, giving Clinton a 14-7 lead after Perry’s PAT kick was on the mark at the 5:56 mark of the first frame.
The Eagles picked up a couple of first downs on their next possession before Clinton made a big defensive play stopping East Bladen on 4th down and 2, with a nice play in the Eagle backfield. Clinton’s offense trotted back on the field, taking over at the Eagles 42-yard line and once again wasted no time lighting up the scoreboard. On first down quarterback, Kris Williams, dropped back and lofted a pass that Jeremiah Pope went high over an Eagle defender to haul the ball in, then turned and dashed into the end zone for a 21-7 lead after Perry added the PAT kick with 2:55 remaining in the first quarter.
Both defensive units tightened the screws and slowed down the scoring parade for the remainder of the first quarter and most of the second. Late in the second quarter the Dark Horses went on an 88 yard scoring march that was capped by an 11-yard TD run by Ryheem Skinner. Skinner took a toss sweep around the right side, steamrolling an Eagle defender at the 8-yard line and bulled into the end zone. Chandler Perry’s PAT was no good but Clinton had a commanding lead at 27-7 with 33 seconds remaining in the half.
Not content to just run out the clock East Bladen took over at their own 35-yard line, handed the ball to Ethan Hines on the first play and he proceeded to weave through the Dark Horse defense for a 65-yard scoring run to pull the Eagles a bit closer before the half. The Eagle PAT kick was wide left but East Bladen had cut into the lead and would head to the locker room with the momentum and trailing the Horses by a score of 27-13.
Clinton received the opening kick of the second half and went on a methodical drive keyed on runs by Skinner and Rayquan Faison to move the ball inside the Eagle 10-yard line. Wright would cap the drive with a one yard run and Kris Williams added a two point conversion on a quarterback sneak to give the Dark Horses a 35-13 lead with 7:17 left in the third quarter.
The Dark Horse defense once again bent, allowing the Eagles to gain some yardage, but eventually turned ball back over to the offense, stopping the Eagles on fourth down. The Horses took over on their own 41-yard line and once again executed a nice drive with Kris Williams sneaking in from a yard out with 11:06 left in the game, extending the Clinton lead to 42-13 after Perry’s successful PAT kick.
East Bladen refused to give up, driving their next possession 61 yards with Ethan Hines scoring from 6-yards out with 7:55 left in the fourth. The Eagles two point conversion failed leaving them in a 13 point hole with little time remaining.
Clinton took the ensuing Eagle kickoff at their 35-yard line and Skinner quickly dashed any hope of an Eagle comeback. Skinner blasted up the middle on the first play of the drive, stiff arming a defender at the line of scrimmage, then outrunning the East Bladen secondary for his second touchdown of the game, a 65-yarder with 7:39 left. Chandler Perry’s PAT kick was good and the Dark Horses held the 49-19 lead that would prove to be the final margin of victory.
After the game, Clinton’s head coach, Bob Lewis praised his team’s performance saying, “our offense did a great job, especially the offensive line. This was probably the best game of the year for the offensive line. Defensively we played well at times but we allowed them to drive the ball on us in the second half, we have to work on that. Their running back, Hines is a great back, he runs with power and has good quickness and really gave us some problems tonight. This is a big win for us, we are 2-0 in the conference, but we have to go right back to work and get ready to go to Midway next week.”
Clinton put up 484 yards of total offense with Skinner accounting for 200 yards on 16 carries with 2 touchdowns. Tyion Wright had a three touchdown night, carrying the ball 7 times for 129 yards. Faison contributed 66 tough yards on 11 carries and ‘Dre Oates added 29 yards on 5 touches. Kris Williams passed three times, completing two for 54 yards and one touchdown through the air. Williams called his own number twice for two yards and a touchdown. Jeremiah Pope had one catch good for 42-yards and a touchdown.
The Dark Horse Defense allowed 272 yards of total offense, all of that total coming on the ground. Herbert Farrior and Prentice Murphy led the defense with 13 tackles each, Faison added 12 stops and Isaiah Page contributed 10 stops.
The win over East Bladen brings Clinton’s record to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in Four County Conference play. Clinton will travel to Midway next Friday with kickoff slated for 7:30pm.
Reach Mike Carter at [email protected]