Clinton welcomed North Brunswick to Dark Horse Stadium on Friday night for the first round of the NCHSAA 2-AA football playoffs. The Dark Horses were looking to recover from last week’s loss to rival Wallace-Rose Hill and the Scorpions proved to be just what the doctor ordered. Clinton scored on their first two possessions, of the penalty marred contest and quickly put any upset hopes North Brunswick may have had on ice, running away from the Scorpions in a 49-18 rout.
Clinton took the opening kickoff, advancing the ball to the 50-yard line and setting up the offense with great field position to start the game. Four plays later Rayquan Faison took the ball into the end zone from four yards for the first score of the night less than one minute into the game. Chandler Perry added the PAT kick giving Clinton the 7-0 lead at the 11:03 mark of the first quarter.
Clinton’s defense quickly put the ball back in the hands of the offense when they forced the Scorpions to punt on their first possession. The Dark Horses took over deep in their own territory at the 14-yard line and proceeded to drive the ball for their second score of the night. Tyion Wright got the honors, finishing up the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run to give the Horses a two score lead at 14-0 after Perry’s successful PAT kick with 4:32 left in the first quarter.
North Brunswick would quickly answer Clinton’s second score with a 32-yard touchdown strike at the 3:03 mark of the first quarter. The Scorpions extra point kick was no good but North Brunswick had cut the Dark Horse lead to 14-6 with 3:03 remaining in the opening frame.
The Dark Horses returned the ensuing kick out to their own 25-yard line where they embarked on a time consuming 75-yard drive for their third touchdown of the night. Ryheem Skinner carried the ball in for the final two yards of the drive, scoring at the 7:07 mark of the second quarter. After Chandler Perry added the PAT kick Clinton had extended the lead to 21-6.
The Dark Horse defense forced another Scorpions punt, putting the offense in business again. Clinton’s drive was cut short by a fumble that was recovered by North Brunswick at the Dark Horse 42-yard line. The Dark Horses turned the Scorpions over on downs to get the ball back with less than two minutes remaining in the first half.
Clinton moved the ball quickly into the red zone, utilizing their timeouts and getting the ball out of bounds on a couple of plays to stop the clock. Tyion Wright scored for the second time with a five yard plunge and Chandler Perry added the PAT kick to put Clinton on top 28-6 with 23 seconds left. The Scorpions were unable to move the ball on their final possession of the first half and the teams headed to the half time break with the Dark Horses in command of the game.
North Brunswick’s Jayhlen Washington took the opening kick off of the second half and snaked his way up the sideline, breaking numerous tackles on his way to the end zone with the second Scorpion score of the game. The two point try failed but the exciting kickoff return drew the Scorpions closer at 28-12 just 18 seconds into the second half.
Clinton’s offense went back to work, driving the ball 68 yards on their first possession of the second half. Rayquan Faison punched the ball in from 7 yards out to move the lead to 35-12 after Perry’s PAT kick. On the Scorpions next possession they drove the ball deep into Clinton territory where Derek Bryant came up big for the Dark Horses when he intercepted a pass at the Clinton 18-yard line. The Dark Horses were forced to punt for the first time after the offense was unable to move the ball. The Scorpion’s punt returner mishandled the kick and Gage Jackson pounced on the loose ball to give the Dark Horse offense new life at the Scorpion 30-yard line.
Clinton quickly took advantage of the turnover, driving the ball inside the two yard line where Rayquan Faison took over and roared in for his third score of the night to push the Dark Horse lead to 42-12 with Perry’s PAT kick at the 5:51 mark of the third quarter.
Clinton’s Tyion Wright stymied the next North Brunswick threat when he intercepted a Scorpion pass in the Dark Horse end zone for the third turnover of the game. The Dark Horse offense took over on their own 20-yard line and seemed content to eat the clock with a grinding drive that resulted in the final score of the night. Rayquan Faison roared into the Scorpion’s end zone with his fourth score of the game, a 1-yarder at the 11:03 mark of the fourth quarter. Chandler Perry added his seventh PAT kick of the game to put the Horses on top 49-12.
North Brunswick would add another score when they recovered a Clinton fumble in the end zone with three minutes remaining in the game. The extra point try sailed wide left, leaving the score 49-18. The Dark Horses cleared the bench as the remaining clock expired on the first round game.
The Dark Horse offense racked up 519 total yards against the Scorpion’s defense. Rayquan Faison led the way with 109 yards on 18 carries and 4 touchdowns. Ryheem Skinner carried the ball 17 times for 176 yards and 1 touchdown, Tyion Wright added 141 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns. Kris Williams called his own number 3 times for 23 rushing yards. Williams passed three times, completing all three attempts for 38 yards through the air. Ryheem Skinnner had two catches for 29 yards and Jeremiah Pope caught 1 ball for 9 yards.
Defensively the Dark Horses were led by Prentice Murphy’s 9 tackles. Rayquan Faison, Devonte Smith and Jonathan Wright each had 6 tackles and Derek Bryant and Tyion Wright each intercepted a pass. Gage Jackson recovered a muffed punt in the second half, flipping the field for the Dark Horses and setting up a Clinton score.
After the game, Clinton head coach Bob Lewis was happy with the first round win, saying “our offense played really well tonight, our line blocked better and we racked up some big yardage. The defense played well too, Tyion Wright and Derek Bryant came up with big interceptions for us. We gave up 18 points but really only one of the touchdowns was against the defense. They got a kick off return for a touchdown and recovered the fumble late for another score. This was a good solid first round win and we are moving on.”
The win improves the Dark Horses’ record to 9-2 on the season and sets up a second round match-up with Wilson Beddingfield next Friday night. The Dark Horses will be at home once again for the second round with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 pm.