Clinton played host to Wilson Beddingfield in the second round of the NCHSAA 2AA playoffs on Friday night. For the first fifteen minutes of the game, it looked as if the Dark Horses would run away with a blowout win, bolting out to a 29-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
The Bruins withstood the potential knockout blow, and fought back to make it respectable, falling to Clinton by the final score of 43-27, and sending the Dark Horses through to the third round of the playoffs.
After trading punts with the Bruins on their first possessions, Clinton got the offense and defense rolling and rattled off four unanswered touchdowns. Ryheem Skinner scored twice in the opening flurry with runs of 4 and 3 yards. Tyion Wright picked up a Bruin fumble and streaked into the end zone for a defensive score, and Rayquan Faison rumbled in from two yards out.
It seemed the Dark Horses were well on the way to routing the Bruins. Chandler Perry added PAT kicks after the first three scores and Kris Williams ran in a 2 point try to build Clinton’s commanding lead.
Beddingfield got their legs under them about midway through the second quarter, and put a touchdown on the board to make it 29-7 with 4:44 remaining in the first half. The teams traded punts on the final two possessions of the first half with Clinton pushing the ball deep into the Bruins end of the field before they failed to convert a fourth down play from the Bruins’ 20-yard line. As time expired on the first half, the Dark Horses held a 29-7 lead.
The second half opened with a rash of turnovers. Clinton forced and recovered a Beddingfield fumble on the second half opening kickoff. The Dark Horses turned the ball over on downs, but Beddingfield didn’t seem to have any desire to keep the ball as Jaylen Best intercepted a Bruin pass for the second time on the night, and returned the ball to the Bruin’s 32 yard line. Clinton then fumbled on the next play to give the ball right back to the Bruins.
Beddingfield was finally able to take advantage of a Dark Horse turnover when the running back took a direct snap and dashed 76 yards to draw the Bruins closer at 29-14. On the ensuing possession, Clinton would answer the Bruin’s score when Ryheem Skinner took the ball up the middle on a 50-yard run for his third touchdown of the night. Chandler Perry added the PAT kick and the Dark Horses had extended the lead to 36-14 at the 4:54 mark of the third quarter.
The score would remain 36-14 as the third quarter ended, but Beddingfield would strike again early in the fourth. Clinton put the ball on the ground again, and a Beddingfield defender scooped up the ball and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown. The 2 point conversion failed but the Bruins had cut the lead to 17, at 36-19 with 11:11 remaining in the game.
The Dark Horses took over the next possession on their own 20-yard line and effectively took the wind out of the Bruin’s sails as they marched 80-yards with Ryheem Skinner covering the final yard, giving the Dark Horses a 43-19 lead after Chandler Perry’s successful PAT kick at the 5:51 mark of the fourth quarter.
Beddingfield returned the ensuing kickoff to the Dark Horse 31-yard line and on the first play of the possession, the Bruin quarterback completed a 31-yard scoring strike to move the score to 43-27 after a successful 2 point conversion.
The Beddingfield score only took 22 seconds off the clock and set up an onside kick attempt, that if successful would make things interesting.
Clinton’s Kris Williams recovered the onside kickoff and the Dark Horse offense took the field and ran the final 5:29 off the game clock to preserve the 43-27 win and move the Dark Horses into the third round match-up against the number one seeded High Point Andrews on next Friday.
Ryheem Skinner had another huge night for the Dark Horses, carrying the ball 24 times for 191 yards and four touchdowns. Rayquan Faison got 20 touches for 105 yards and a touchdown and Tyion Wright added 58 yards on 11 carries. Kris Williams completed three of his four passes for 88 yards. Jonathan Wright caught one ball for 41 yards, Tyion Wright had one catch for 14 yards and Jaylen Best made a spectacular sideline grab that was good for 33 yards.
Rayquan Faison not only had a good night on offense, he was all over the field on defense making 11 tackles to lead the Dark Horse defense. Devonte Smith added 8 tackles and Prentice Murphy tallied 6 stops. Jaylen Best intercepted two Bruin passes, Tyion Wright recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown and Albert Deaver recovered a fumble for the Dark Horses.
After the game, Clinton head coach Bob Lewis said, “It was not a pretty win, but it was a win and we move on to the next round. We started off pretty strong but the longer we played, the better they played and they got some momentum. I thought our backs ran hard and had a good game, but the defense had some lapses. We are just happy to get past this one and move on.”
The win moves Clinton’s record to 10-2 on the season and sets up a third round match-up against the number one seeded High Point T W Andrews. The Dark Horses will have to hit the road, when they travel to High Point next Friday to take on the 12-1 Red Raiders.