Run game stalls, Clinton falls
Starting the 4th quarter, Clinton knew what it had to do. Win one quarter (25 photos).
Overcome Laurens’ 13 points – definitely do-able, considering the Red Devils had the ball within striking distance of the Raiders’ goal line. The first play into the 4th, Clinton struck – Greg Sanders scored on a bruising 5-yard run and Sam Tiller punched home the PAT.
Titus Hood found the end zone 3:35 later – trouble was, Laurens scored three 4th quarter touchdowns to Clinton’s two, and won – for the second consecutive year – the County Championship, this time 34-14, Friday at Wilder Stadium.
The teams played a scoreless 1st half.
Laurens tacked on a touchdown with :51 on the game clock to make the margin of victory 20 points.
Clinton’s 89 yards rushing – 64 of that on one play – was no match for Laurens’ 292 on the ground.
Still, the game was just 20-14 Laurens with 6:20 left to play. A fumble ended Clinton’s last hope. Duane Martin did the heavy lifting for Laurens – 21 rushes for 133 yards – he just didn’t carry the rock to paydirt. That was reserved for Shamare Dendy and Ryan Campbell (one of his TD runs was for 42 yards).
For Clinton, senior wide receiver/quarterback Cameron Nichols caught 4 passes for 92 yards. The son of a football coach, Nichols found the soft spots in Laurens’ coverage, and Clinton QB Konner Richardson exploited those for 9 completions in 20 attempts for 131 yards.
Trouble was, Clinton was passing because it had to – not in situations where it wanted to, because the run game was working.
“I was really, really proud of the way our kids fought,” Clinton football head coach Andrew Webb said. “Those guys (Nichols and Richardson) did good, man. I thought we threw the ball good, but we have to run the football to win.”
Clinton wasn’t looking past Week 1, but if the Red Devils were in that frame of mind, they would have been looking toward Spartanburg County. There, Woodruff was dismantling Broome, 48-12. Broome is Clinton’s Week 2 opponent – Woodruff plays Clinton in a region, season finale contest.
NOTE: Clinton presented the members of its girls track State Champion relay team their rings in a 7:30 pm pre-game ceremony. Kick time for football was 8 pm, as a heat precaution.