Clinton celebrated homecoming on Friday night, hosting Trask in a Four County Conference matchup that pitted the undefeated Dark Horses against an improved Titan team. The Titans were sporting a 6-2 record and had designs on spoiling the Clinton homecoming celebration. The Dark Horses had other plans however, scoring touchdowns in bunches in the first half to run out to a 42-0 halftime lead, on their way to their ninth victory on the season, a 49-6 drubbing of the Titans.
The Dark Horses took the opening kickoff, a short pooch kick that Isaiah Page returned out near midfield to give the Dark Horse offense excellent field position at their own 45-yard line. Clinton wasted little time capitalizing as Ryheem Skinner took the ball around the left end on the third play of the game for a 50-yard scoring run. Chandler Perry added the PAT and the Dark Horses had a 7-0 lead at the 10:44 mark of the first quarter.
The Titan offense had a short debut, only running three plays and punting ball away to the Dark Horses. A short punt resulted in the Dark Horses getting great field position for their second possession, starting on the Trask side of the 50, at the 47-yard line. Once again the Dark Horse offense wasted no time getting the ball into the end zone when quarterback Kris Williams called his own number for a 1-yard TD run at the 4:11 mark. Perry successfully converted the PAT to push the Clinton lead to 14-0.
The Dark Horses got their first turnover of the night on the ensuing kickoff when the Titan returner put the ball on the ground and an alert Page covered the fumble to give the Dark Horses the ball back at the Trask 15-yard line. One play later the Dark Horses sent Tyion Wright over right tackle for a 15-yard scoring run at the 3:53 mark of the first quarter. Perry added his third PAT of the night and the Horses had a 21-0 lead before the Titans could manage to pick up a first down.
The Titan offense got some traction and moved the ball, possessing the ball for the remainder of the quarter and driving down to the Clinton 24-yard line before the drive stalled and the Dark Horses took over on downs. The Dark Horses took to the air for their fourth score of the game. Kris Williams dropped back and found a wide open Mike Kramer for a 55-yard scoring strike with 8:33 remaining in the first half. Once again, Perry was true, kicking the PAT through for a 28-0 Dark Horse lead.
The Titans once again could get nothing going on offense and had to punt the ball back to the Dark Horses. Clinton got great field position, returning the Trask punt back to the Titan’s 30-yard line. Clinton quickly drove the ball into the red zone and eventually into the end zone when Page took the ball over the middle of the line for a 3-yard plunge, giving the Horses a commanding 35-0 lead at 5:13 in the second quarter. Perry added the PAT, his fifth of the game.
Trask committed their second turnover of the game on their next position when Kris Williams intercepted a badly overthrown ball for his seventh interception of the season. Williams returned the pick to the Titan 31-yard line and the Horses were knocking on the door once again. It took the Horses only two plays to knock the door down when AJ Williamson stormed through the middle of the Titan defense on his way to a 24-yard scoring run with 2:05 left in the half. Perry added the extra point for a 42-0 lead that they would take to the locker room for the halftime break.
The Titans took the opening kick of the second half and had success moving the ball, picking up a first down and moving the ball out to their own 38-yard line. It was from there that the Titan quarterback Tyrease Armstrong called his own number, leaping over a would be tackler and bursting into the Dark Horse secondary for a 62-yard touchdown sprint. The Titans’ two-point try failed but the visitors were finally on the board at the 6:46 mark of the third quarter.
The Dark Horses took the Trask kickoff back to the Titan 49-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Wright swept around the right side of the line and out ran most of the Trask defense to the end zone running the score to 49-6 with Perry’s seventh PAT of the night at the 5:21 remaining in the quarter.
With the clock running continuously for the bulk of the second half and Trask finally gaining some yards on offense, the Clinton defense was on the field for much of the second half. This fact was not lost on Clinton head coach Bob Lewis after the game.
“They played us tough tonight, and we needed that, but there at the end we found out there are some things we need to work on. They ran the option at us and we were not ready to stop it. We gave up too many yards in the second half, and allowed them to control the ball for too much.”
While Lewis was obviously concerned about the defensive performance in the second half he had high praise for the offense, adding, “the offensive line played hard, they blocked well tonight and the backs had a good night. I think all of our offensive plays were for plus yardage tonight and that is the direction you want to go.”
With a big game against undefeated Wallace-Rose Hill looming next week, Lewis feels that his team will be ready to play. “If we can’t get fired up for this one, we don’t need to be here.”
Statistically, the Dark Horses were led by Skinner’s 100 yards on seven carries with a touchdown. Wright piled up 82 yards on seven carries with two TDs. Page added 34 yards on four carries with one touchdown. Quarterback Kris Williams threw once for a completion of 55 yards and a touchdown to tight end Kramer. Perry was perfect on extra points, making all seven attempts. As a unit the Horses racked up 290 rushing yards and 55 through the air.
On defense, Kramer and Prentice Murphy each had 12 tackles, Devonte Smith added 11 stops, AJ Williamson and Page had nine tackles each and Page recovered a fumble. Kris Williams intercepted a pass for his seventh pick of the year. The Dark Horse defense allowed 210 yards, with 139 of that total coming in the second half.
The win improves Clinton’s record to 9-0 overall and 5-0 in conference play. Clinton travels to Wallace-Rose Hill next Friday for a showdown with the undefeated Bulldogs. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. which is 30 minutes later than normal. A win over Wallace-Rose would give the Dark Horses the Four County Conference title and position them for a good playoff seeding.