The Clinton Dark Horses lost in a heartbreaker Friday night, losing to Wallace-Rose Hill in the final minute after going up one on a gutsy two-point call. The 28-22 defeat ends the Horses’ five-game winning streak and hands them their first conference loss of the season.
The action started off really slow, with neither team finding any offensive success in the first quarter as both defenses held strong. From the second quarter on the intense battle between the Horses and Bulldogs really picked up.
The Horses struck first in the game, getting on the board just seconds into the second quarter. Kris Williams broke one for Clinton for about 14 yards on the first play of the quarter. The Chandler Perry PAT was good and they took a 7-0 lead over the Bulldogs at 11:57.
After trading possessions, the Bulldogs responded with their first touchdown of the night at 7:35 left in the half. They marched down the field seeming unstoppable running the ball. An easy carry at the goal line and a successful PAT tied it up at 7-7.
Clinton would put up another score before the half ended, this time through the air. Williams picked the defense apart on one pass play after the next, marching the Horses downfield. Williams connected with Hampton Brock on an out-route in the red zone to give them the go-ahead score. Clinton took the 14-7 lead after the extra point was good by Perry.
The third quarter was much like the first with no offensive production and shutdown defense by both teams.
Then in the fourth, Wallace-Rose Hill went wild in their running game which allowed them to score 21 points. The first touchdown didn’t come until 6:39 left in the game when the Bulldogs had the first of several long runs of the quarter. With this score and the PAT they were able to tie it back up at 14-14.
The next two series were the worst Clinton had all night, the first coming on a fourth-and-12. They didn’t convert and the Bulldogs took over with decent field position, but they weren’t able to get anything out of it. Then on Clinton’s next drive they had their only turnover of the night on a lost fumble.
This time, the Bulldogs turned the excellent field position into their second score of the quarter on a long run play. With 4:28 left in the game, Wallace led 21-14.
The Dark Horses then had perhaps their most spectacular play on the entire season which set them up for a potential win. On fourth-and-11 on what could’ve been the final play of the game for Clinton, the pocket broke down and Williams scrambled, appearing to be headed for a sack at the hands of the Bulldogs defense. Then somehow he managed to find Carson Ellis wide open in the end zone. Ellis caught the pass on his knees.
With just 1:58 left, and the score 21-20, the Horses opted to go for two and the win. Jalen Smith got his number called and he delivered, converting the two-point conversion and giving Clinton the one point lead at 22-21.
It wasn’t meant to be as the Horses went for the short kick, giving Wallace-Rose Hill nice field position to start their final drive. A few plays later, with 45.9 seconds left, the Bulldogs ran a double reverse out of the backfield. No one was even close as the Bulldogs broke outside on the longest run of the night toward stealing the lead back, 28-22.
On Clinton’s final drive they had a couple of good plays, but couldn’t get back into the end zone, losing a heartbreaking decision.
Rushing leaders for Clinton were Smith, who had 20 carries for 118 yards; A.J. Williamson, 14 carries for 59 yards; and Williams seven carries for 43 yards. Williams also went 9-for-16 passing for 87 yards. Ellis had two catches for 29 yards, Zion Autry had three for 24 yards and Hampton Brock added two catches for 20 yards.
Defensive leaders were Jaivah Cruse, who amassed 12 tackles, while Jatiyuhn Wilson tallied 11 tackles, Smith had 10 tackles and one fumble recovered and Chase Faison had four tackles and two sacks.
With the streak ended, the Dark Horses fall to 5-4 overall and 4-1 in conference play. They host the undefeated East Duplin Panthers, who sit atop the conference, for the final game of the regular season on Friday.
Reach Michael Hardison at email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.