The Dark Horses were in a close fight this past Friday night in their season opener on the road against Cape Fear. It was a defensive showdown by both teams that led to the Colts besting Clinton, 15-0, in pre-season gridiron action.
There isn’t much to ponder about for this contest as it was a low scoring affair that was completely dictated by defense. Clinton, however, did have a couple of opportunities that could’ve tied the game up but weren’t able to convert. Reaching the redzone at least twice, one series came up short while the other, following a huge interception by J’Daques Wallace, was cut short thanks to a fumble near the eight yard line, keeping the Horses off the scoreboard.
Exhaustion also played it’s role in this matchup as the Horses were definitely outmatched in terms of players. With only 32 dressed out for Clinton, the Colts had nearly 20 more players to work with. Due to the roster difference, the Horses had multiple guys not only playing both ways but some were on the special teams unit as well.
Despite not suffering from the same issue, the Colts barelycame away with a two touchdown win, something Clinton head coach Cory Johnson noted.
“I thought we played well tonight, especially defensively, we were just a little outmatched in personnel. They had a lot more players than we did and we had a lot guys going both ways while they didn’t,” Johnson said. “But, that’s not to take anything away from Cape Fear. They’re one of the best schools in the state and we knew they were going to be tough to beat.”
“At the same time, what people won’t tell you about this game is that it could’ve easily been 15-15 and headed into overtime. We got into the redzone twice, we didn’t score on one of those drives then we had the fumble on the other. So, we definitely had our chances, things just didn’t workout for us,” he added.
Perhaps chance is the hidden tale of this game as Cape Fear got a pair of golden ones. With the flow of the game, neither teams defense was allowing an inch. In both instances that led to Cape Fear touchdowns, the Colts had amazing field position after capitalizing on Clinton miscues.
In each case Clinton was deep in its own territory when untimely three-and-out drives forced the Dark Horses to punt the ball out of the back of their own end zone. Both times the punts were short which put Cape Fear well within Clinton territory. From there, a few power running plays in the red zone eventually gave Cape Fear its 15-0 lead they’d hold the rest of the night.
Though Clinton lost the season opener, Johnson remarked on something he learned.
“We might’ve been outmatched by numbers but I’ll tell you one thing that I definitely learned about my team tonight. And that’s, regardless of the situation, I have 32 guys that’ll always go out, play hard and give me everything they’ve got every single night,” Johnson concluded.
The Dark Horses start the season 0-1 and will aim for their first win of the season when they travel to face East Bladen on Friday.