Clinton blanks SW Onslow

By Mike Carter - Sports Writer

Tyion Wright turns the corner after catching a pass for the Dark Horses.

Dark Horse defensive tackle Devonte Smith makes one of his six unassisted tackles.

Clinton opened their football season on Friday night, hosting Southwest Onslow in a non-conference matchup. The Dark Horses, tired of hitting each other through a long preseason camp, came out and hit the Stallions in the mouth right out of the gate, and didn’t let up until they had buried the visitors in a 52-0 shutout.

Clinton’s offense was clicking on all cylinders, scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions while the defense limited Southwest Onslow to just nine plays and no first downs in the first quarter.

Fullback Jalen Smith plunged in from two yards out with the Dark Horses first score at the 8:03 mark of the first quarter and after the defense forced the first Southwest punt the offense was back in business. Kris Williams dropped back and threw a short pass to Tyion Wright who took the ball down the sideline for 57 yards and the second score of the night with 5:42 remaining in the first quarter. After Kris Williams called his own number and swept around left end with the two point conversion, Clinton held a 14-0 advantage.

On Clinton’ third possession the Stallion defense came up with a stop and forced a Clinton punt from near midfield. The Stallion punt returner, however allowed the Chandler Perry punt to roll dead inside the 10-yard line and the Stallions were hemmed deep in their own territory. The Stallions could only manage three yards on three plays and were forced to punt the ball away, giving the Dark Horses good filed position the the Stallion’s 45-yard line to open the second quarter.

The Dark Horses moved the ball into the red zone but the drive stalled at the Stallion’s 14-yard line, where Clinton opted for a field goal attempt. After missing on this first PAT attempt of the season, Clinton’s Perry calmly nailed the 31-yard field goal giving the Dark Horses a 17-0 lead at the 7:17 mark of the second quarter.

The Stallions managed their first, first down of the game on their next drive, but the Dark Horse defense quickly clamped down and forced another Southwest punt. The Dark Horses went on a methodical 78-yard drive, that culminated in a 2-yard TD run by Wright at the 1:37 mark of the second quarter that gave Clinton a commanding 24-0 lead.

Southwest Onslow took the ensuing kickoff across midfield with a nice return to Clinton’s 48-yard line. The Stallion’s hopes of getting points on the board before halftime were dashed on the second play of the drive. Southwest completed a short pass but Clinton’s Wright put a bone-jarring hit on the receiver forcing a fumble that Wright was able to cover, giving the Dark Horses the ball back at their own 42-yard line with 36 seconds remaining in the half. One play later, Ryheem Skinner took a draw play over left tackle, broke away from a couple of Stallion defenders and 58 yards later waltzed into the end zone, giving Clinton a 31-0 lead after Perry’s successful PAT kick with 19 seconds remaining in the first half.

On the ensuing kickoff, Perry’s kick sailed over the returner’s head, landed inside the 2-yard line and spun back forcing the Stallions to retreat and attempt a return. The Dark Horse defenders corralled the Stallion runner at the 9-yard line, forcing a fumble that AJ Williamson recovered to give Clinton one more possession before the halftime break.

The Dark Horse offense once again operated efficiently, scoring on two plays when Williams took the ball in on a QB sneak and Perry added the PAT kick to give Clinton the 38-0 lead with 2 seconds remaining before the half. The Dark Horses scoring spree late in the first half effectively double the lead in the last 1:37 of the first half and for all purposes put the game out of reach for the Stallions.

The home team wasted no time adding to their lead in the second half. After kicking off to the Stallions to open the third quarter the Horses’ defense went right to work. On third down from the Clinton 42-yard line a Stallion pass was tipped by Wright and intercepted by Williams who returned it to the Stallion 13-yard line.

The Dark Horse offense quickly punched the ball into the end zone when Isaiah Page plunged over from a yard out to give Clinton a 44-0 lead at the 9:04 mark of the third quarter. Chandler Perry added the PAT to run the lead to 45-0 and invoke the continuous clock rule for the remainder of the game.

The Clinton coaching staff emptied their bench for the remainder of the game but the reserves were able to hold the Stallions to next to no offense. The teams traded a couple of punts as the third quarter wound down with neither able to gain any offensive traction.

Clinton would get one more score on the board late in the fourth quarter when they mounted a 45-yard scoring drive that featured nice runs by Williamson, Page and Trey Warren. Khari Williams carried the ball the final three yards for the Dark Horses’ final score of the game, running the total to 52 points after Perry added his eighth point of the night with the successful PAT kick with 4:15 remaining in the fourth quarter.

After the game, Clinton head coach Bob Lewis talked about his team getting the first game under their belts.

“The guys were tired of hitting each other, it was good to get to hit someone else. This was a good way to start, we didn’t get anyone injured. I’m not going to say we played a perfect game, but we exceeded my expectations. We had very few penalties, we did have couple of fumbles but we were able to cover them ourselves. All in all I thought for it to be the first game we performed very well.”

When asked to pick out one area of concern coach Lewis added, “Pass defense is still a concern for us, we did get an interception tonight and when they threw it we had them covered all but one time. If we go up against a good spread team we have got to be ready so there is still some improvement needed in pass defense.”

Statistically the Dark Horses racked up a huge night, piling up 407 yards of total offense while only allowing Southwest Onslow 64 yards of offensive production. The Dark Horse offense was led by Skinner with 131 yards on 11 carries, and a touchdown, all in the first half. Wright added 46 yards and one touchdown on eight carries and Jalen Smith carried 9 times for a bruising 44 yards and a touchdown. Kris Williams had a productive night under center going 3-for-4 through the air for 93 yards and a touchdown. Williams also added a rushing touchdown. Wright caught a pass for 57 yards and a touchdown and Skinner made two catches for 36 yards.

Defensively, Devonte Smith collected seven tackles, six of them unassisted; Prentice Murphy, Michael Kramer and AJ Williamson added five stops apiece; and Rodney Carr chipped in four tackles. Kris Williams intercepted a pass and Wright and Williamson each recovered a fumble.

Clinton’s win stakes them to a 1-0 start on the young season. The Dark Horses’ next game is a road contest at Smithfield-Selma, set for a 7:30 kickoff Thursday.

Tyion Wright turns the corner after catching a pass for the Dark Horses. Wright turns the corner after catching a pass for the Dark Horses.

Dark Horse defensive tackle Devonte Smith makes one of his six unassisted tackles. Horse defensive tackle Devonte Smith makes one of his six unassisted tackles.

By Mike Carter

Sports Writer

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