Celebrate Saturday. Then, get back to work preparing for Greer. That's what's expected of the 1-0 Clinton Red Devils after their stunning 34-29 win Friday over Laurens.
Rather than a let down, after beating their cross-county rival for the first time in four years, Clinton High football head coach Andrew Webb plans for his team to "Ride the Wave."
"It was more of us executing in the 2nd and 3rd quarter," Webb said of the time that turned the game around. "We have some things to get ironed out. There's no way with their size and our size (Clinton was going to dominate the line of scrimmage). We just keep coming. We play physical and fast, and tonight that caused turnovers. We turned those into field position."
It was an offside penalty that finally gave Clinton, with 22 seconds on the game clock, some reasonable assurance it could win the game - the season-opener for both teams. Quarterback Charlie Craven was hit hard twice trying to take a knee at Clinton's 2 yard line. One more hard hit and he probably would wind up on his backside in the Red Devil end zone. That would be a safety - and Clinton would have to kick. And, anything can happen on a kick.
Craven hard-counted. The Raider line bit. The 5 yards put one more kneel down, not so much right on the goal line this time, as the best offensive option for Clinton to secure the win. Clinton was coasting with a 20-point lead, 34-14, when Laurens put together a fierce comeback. Over the last four years, these are the games Clinton has found ways to lose. Tonight would be different.
"Respect, earning respect, was at the top of our list. No. 2 was earning a county championship. We got both of those tonight," Webb said.
Clinton's defense held Laurens out of the end zone from the Red Devil 3 yard line with :33.2 on the game clock. Laurens had recovered a Clinton fumble with 2:32 left to play, and the Raiders took possession on the Clinton 11. That play came after Laurens scored a touchdown pass with 5:04 on the game clock, pretty much evaporating what had been the 20-point Devils lead.
Clinton got to 34 points after recovering a fumble and engineering an offensive drive featuring Aaron Copeland and Koko Richey. Their running got Clinton to the Laurens 12 with 11:22 on the game clock. After a Laurens timeout, Richey ran it in for the TD, and got to the edge for the 2-point conversion.
With momentum and plenty of time, it looked like one team was a sure bet to score more points. The Raiders were reeling, the Devils were rolling, Then, the team that did not have the momentum a few minutes before, was the team that got hot. Laurens scored a touchdown with 8:06 to play, and followed that with a safety. Clinton was holding onto a 34-23 lead and would surrender one more touchdown before finally putting the game away.
After the on-field handshakes, Webb and the coaches directed the rowdy players - these Red Devil seniors had never beaten Laurens - to stand in front of the Devil Regiment band. On a night of new traditions they stood together - the band played the alma mater.