The Midway Raiders and Clinton Dark Horses squared off on the gridiron on Monday evening, putting an end to a long drought in game action for both squads since Hurricane Florence blew through a couple weeks ago. For Clinton, the break in action has been particularly long as the Dark Horses didn’t face an opponent throughout the entire month of September. No doubt some dust was in need of shaking off, but Clinton took full command in the second quarter and never looked back as they cruised to a 50-8 victory over the Raiders.
The first quarter of action was unsuccessfully back and forth for both teams. Midway won the toss and elected to receive to begin the game. After a bobbled kickoff, the Raiders got fantastic field position when they returned the ball all the way down to the Clinton 36-yard line. The Raiders didn’t get much closer from there, though, as the Dark Horses thwarted Midway’s scoring opportunity with a fourth down defensive stand.
Clinton took possession on their own 32-yard line and went right to work. The Dark Horses ran the ball right at Midway, picking up modest chunks of yardage at the time. The drive was then aided by a defensive pass interference against Midway that moved the ball well into Raiders territory. Clinton, though, got a taste of their own medicine when Midway came up with a big fourth down stop to reclaim possession.
With time seemingly clicking away slowly, Midway took back over on their own 25-yard line. This time around, the Raiders offense found more success as their option offense proved to be fruitful. Midway worked the ball into Dark Horse territory but Clinton’s Davion Smith intercepted a deflected pass attempt by Carson Calcutt to put a halt to the Raiders drive.
The ensuing Clinton possession, marred by penalties, went backwards. With the quarter slowly coming to a close, momentum really seemed to swing in Midway’s favor when the Raiders pinned Clinton deep in their own territory on fourth down to force a punt. Midway senior Carsse Lucas received the punt and began upfield but the ball was knocked away and recovered by Clinton’s Dakota Butler.
The first quarter came to a close with a scoreless tie but things were about change. Midway was doing all they could to stay within contention but their second turnover of the game would prove to be the tipping point.
Just mere seconds into the second quarter, Clinton capitalized on the Raiders miscue as Knowlydge Evans scampered in for the touchdown. The 2-point try was unsuccessful but Clinton was ahead to stay at 6-0 with 11:43 on the clock in the second quarter.
The ensuing Midway drive didn’t help matters. After taking over on their own 20-yard line, the drive was held to three-and-out. A miscue on the punt, though, resulted in the punter attempting to run the ball. The Dark Horses tackled him for a minimal gain as they’re offense was now back in business on the Raiders 22-yard line.
This time it was Davion Smith who found paydirt for the Dark Horses on the first play from scrimmage. Smith scampered all 22 yards for the rushing score then converted the 2-point conversion to make it 14-0 with 9:26 left in the half.
The Raiders found themselves able to move the ball but struggled to turn these opportunities into scores. On the ensuing drive, they moved the ball into Clinton territory but failed to get any closer than the 37-yard line as the Dark Horses defense held on fourth down.
Clinton took over on the 37-yard line and worked their way downfield when Evans found the end zone for the second time with 3:23 left on the clock. The Horses converted the two point try and led 22-0.
The sudden burst by the Dark Horses wasn’t done yet. A quick Midway drive stalled at midfield which yielded Clinton taking over on their own 43-yard line. It took less than a minute for the Dark Horses to strike again. Evans found the end zone for the third time when he bolted 46 yards for the score. Clinton again converted the 2-point try to take a 30-0.
That would be the halftime score.
In the third quarter, Clinton pushed their lead to 38-0 when Spencer Westerbeek recovered a Midway fumble to set the Dark Horses up at the Raiders 17-yard line. On the next play, Carson Ellis caught the touchdown pass. After the two-point try, it was 38-0 Horses.
On the ensuing drive, the Raiders finally found their way to the scoreboard when Calcutt connected with Dante Blue on an impressive screen play. Blue took the short pass and chugged his way through the defense and into a gap and galloped 92 yards for the score. Cameron Barefoot converted the two-point try to make it 38-8.
That score carried over to the fourth quarter where Clinton converted two more scores to reach the 50-8 final tally.
Edwin Sampson ran it in from one yard out for the score with 7:50 left in the game followed by Westerbeek stripping Midway’s Blue of the ball and running it 35 yards back for the score.
After the game, Midway head coach Cory Barnes was disappointed in the outcome of the game but remained positive in the postgame huddle as he went over the gameplay with his team.
“I’m disappointed in the way we didn’t make plays when we should have,” he said. “We’ve got to keep our defense off the field. On offense, the plays are there and we have the personnel in place. We’re just not executing.“
Barnes also didn’t want to blame the loss on Midway not playing in several weeks nor the fact that practices have been limited.
“Clinton had time off, too. I don’t want to use that as a crutch, that’s just where we have to get better at practice and stay focused during practice.”
Barnes went on to credit his defense, which despite the large scoring disparity, was notably improved from previous games.
“Tonight, I’m proud of our defense. We made stops. We just didn’t capitalize on offense. We weren’t moving the chains when we needed to, we weren’t finishing, and it wasn’t the offense I’m used to seeing and it put more strain on the defense.”
Leading the charge for Clinton was Evans who had seven rushes for 91 yards and three touchdowns. Evans also had a passing touchdown. Ellis had Clinton’s lone pass reception, which was good 17 yards and a touchdown.
Over on the Midway side, Calcutt completed seven passes for 141 yards and a touchdown. He was also Midway’s leading rusher with 42 yards on six carries. Blue was the Raiders leading receiver with 108 yards and a touchdown on three catches. Defensively, Cameron Calcutt led Midway with 10 tackles.
With the win, Clinton improves to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the East Central Conference. They are slated for a bye Friday.
For Midway, the loss drops them below .500 for the first time this season at 2-3 overall and 0-1 in the East Central Conference. They will host James Kenan on Friday night when they celebrate homecoming.
Reach Sports Editor Daron Barefoot at [email protected]