After nearly 15 days since playing their last game, Clinton traveled to Dublin to take on the Knights at West Bladen. It didn’t take the Dark Horses long to shake off the rust and get back down to business, scoring three times in each of the first two quarters to run out to a 41-0 halftime lead on their way to a 55-0 shutout of the Knights.
West Bladen took the opening kickoff and was moving the ball well, until Kris Williams intercepted his sixth pass of the season to put an abrupt halt to the Knight’s first possession. The Williams pick set the Clinton offense in excellent field position for their first possession. Four plays later the Clinton offense punched in their first score of the night as Jalen Smith capped the drive with a 2-yard plunge. Chandler Perry added the PAT making the score 7-0 at the 7:37 mark of the first quarter.
The Clinton defense forced a West Bladen punt after three quick plays, putting the Dark Horse offense back in business near midfield. The Dark Horses quickly drove the ball into the red zone on nice runs from Ryheem Skinner and Tyion Wright. Wright eventually scored on a 3-yard run, the first of three touchdowns for the senior, to increase the lead to 14-0 after Perry’s successful PAT at the 4:50 mark of the first quarter.
Jamarian Smith put a halt to the next West Bladen possession when he intercepted a pass and returned it to West Bladen’s 40-yard line. Behind strong running from Skinner and a nice catch and run by Mike Kramer the Horses advance to the Knight 16-yard line. On first down Kris Williams took a quick drop and fired a slant pass to Wright who abused two defenders on his way to the end zone for his second touchdown, and a 21-0 Clinton lead after Chandler Perry rifled through his third PAT of the night with 10 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
The Dark Horse defense once again stuffed West Bladen on three plays, forcing another punt. Wright fielded the punt near midfield and weaved his way through traffic before finally being pushed out of bounds at the Knight’s 13-yard line. Two plays later, Skinner took the ball over left tackle for 5 yards and another Dark Horse touchdown, upping the Clinton lead to 28-0 with the addition of Perry’s PAT with 9:44 remaining in the first half.
West Bladen was unable to get any offense going against the stingy Dark Horse defense and once again punted to the Horses. This time the Knight punter uncorked a good kick that backed the Dark Horses up to their own 30-yard line for Clinton’s worst starting field position of the game. Unfazed by the relatively poor field position the Dark Horses marched the ball quickly downfield, using a new scheme with Wright taking over at quarterback. Wright got his third score of the game when he called his own number on a 25-yard keeper, eluding several would be tacklers in his quest for the goal line. After Perry added the PAT, Clinton held an impressive 35-0 lead with 8:07 left in the second quarter.
West Bladen picked up a couple of first downs on their next possession, moving the ball out near midfield before the Clinton defense stiffened, stalling the drive and forcing yet another Knight punt. Clinton took over on their own 30-yard line and wasted no time adding to their lead. On second down, Wright found a wide open Kris Williams in the right flat for a 64-yard touchdown toss. A low snap foiled the PAT kick attempt, but the Williams catch and run put the Horses up 41-0 with 3:22 remaining in the half.
After another West Bladen punt the Dark Horses inserted the second team offense into the game for the final 1:22 of the half. The Horses were satisfied to run the remaining time off the first half clock and take their commanding 41-0 lead to the locker room.
Clinton took the opening kick of the second half and with the starters getting the rest of the night off several reserves looked to get valuable game experience. A J Williamson took a handoff from Trey Warren and blasted over right tackle for a 45-yard touchdown run with 9 minutes left in the third quarter, running the score to 48-0 after Perry tacked on the PAT.
The Clinton reserve defense was nearly as effective as the second unit offense, giving up a few yards to the Knights but getting several big stops, including another interception by Jamarian Smith, to turn the ball back over to the offense. Clinton’s final score of the night came on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Trey Warren with 17 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Perry added his eighth point of the night with the PAT to give the Dark Horses their final margin of victory at 55-0.
After the game Clinton head coach Bob Lewis was quick to confirm how glad everyone was to be back to some football, saying “it is nice to be back on the football field. This is a big conference win for us, we got a lot of players in the game and it puts us one game closer to our goal of a conference championship.”
Lewis explained that the route to that championship is clear, adding “we have three very important games left, the first of which is Trask next week. We control our own fate at this point. We have to get ready to play each and every week.”
Clinton got 306 yards on the ground with a running back by committee approach. Wright got 6 carries for 70 yards and 2 touchdowns. Skinner added 70 yards on 5 carries with 1 touchdown, AJ Williamson picked up 92 yards on 7 carries with 1 touchdown in his reserve role and Shameek Darby gained 42 yards on 9 carries.
The Dark Horse quarterbacks were perfect in the passing game with Kris Williams completing 3 of 3 passes for 61 yards and a touchdown. Wright threw one pass for 62 yards and a score. The Dark Horse receiving corp was led by Kris Williams with one catch for 62 yards and a touchdown, Wright caught a pass for 16 yards and a score and Mike Kramer caught two passes and rumbled for 45 yards.
Defensively, Kramer had another big night for the Horses, collecting nine tackles. Khari Williams had five stops, Prentice Murphy and AJ Williamson each added four tackles and one sack apiece, Kris Williams also added four tackles and an interception, and Jamarian Smith had two interceptions and one pass break-up. The Clinton defense posted their second straight shutout and fourth of the season.
The win improves Clinton to 8-0 overall and 4-0 in Four County Conference play. Clinton returns home to Dark Horse stadium next Friday night to face Trask with kickoff set for 7 p.m.