CLINTON — Clinton welcomed Pender to Dark Horse Stadium on Thursday night, a day earlier than scheduled, for the Dark Horses’ Four County Conference opener. The plan to avoid Friday’s forecast of heavy rains almost worked to perfection as the teams played the first half in dry conditions.
The second half, however, was played under a steady shower as the Clinton dominated the visitors, handing the Patriots a sound 64-13 beating.
The Dark Horses took the opening kickoff and quickly marched the ball inside the Pender 10-yard line. On second down, Rayquan Faison swept the ball around right end and appeared to be in the endzone, but he lost the ball at the one-yard line and Pender recovered to stall the Clinton Drive. Three plays later, after gaining less than a yard, the Patriots were forced to punt from their endzone. The long snap sailed over the punter’s head, out of the back of the end zone and Clinton had the lead at 2-0 after the resulting safety at the 8:54 mark of the first quarter.
The Dark Horses wasted little time striking again, taking the free kick and moving the ball quickly into Pender’s end of the field. Ryheem Skinner found the endzone for the first of his two touchdowns on the night at the 6:13 mark of the first quarter giving Clinton a 9-0 lead after Chandler Perry’s successful PAT kick.
The Dark Horses would hang four more scores on the Patriots before the first half ended. Rayquan Faison scampered in from 51 yards at the 6:03 mark of the second quarter to run the score to 16-0. Tyion Wright got in on the scoring frenzy, taking the ball off-tackle for a 5 yard TD run with 2:25 left in the half.
On the ensuing kickoff Pender’s deep back took Chandler Perry’s kickoff at the four-yard line, shot straight up the middle and 96 yards later had put Pender on the board at 2:10 to draw the Patriots closer at 23-7 after a successful PAT kick.
The Dark Horses would answer quickly when Ryheem Skinner took the first play of the next drive 68-yards down the Pender sideline to widen the margin to 30-7 with 1:50 remaining in the half. Clinton seized the opportunity to practice clock management when they used two timeouts on Pender’s next possession to get the ball back once more before the half.
After forcing the Patriots to punt the ball away with 1:10 remaining in the half. A short punt resulted in great field position for the Horses as they took over at the Pender 35 yard-line. Four plays later Clinton banged the ball over for another score when Kris Williams called his own number and ran the ball in from 9 yards out with 27 seconds remaining in the first half. After Chandler Perry’s PAT kick the Dark Horses had a commanding 37-7 lead.
With the rain starting to fall the Dark Horses kept the pressure on Pender’s defense, opening the second half with a quick score when Tyion Wright scampered 32 yards to run the score to 44-7 after Perry’s successful kick. The opening drive of the second frame would be the last time Clinton’s first team offense would see the field, yielding to the second team for the remainder of the game.
The Dark Horses forced a Pender punt on the next possession, taking over with great field position at the Patriot 35-yard line. The great field position was squandered when the Dark Horses turned the ball over on a fumble for the second time of the game. Pender capitalized on the turnover, completing a 65 yard pass play to bring the score to 44-13 after the failed PAT kick at the 3:53 mark of the third quarter.
Jeremiah Pope took the Pender kickoff and darted down the home sideline, taking the ball back for a touchdown and putting an end to any hopes the Patriots had for an upset. Pope’s return gave the Horses a 51-13 lead with 3:38 remaining in the third quarter after Perry tacked on another PAT kick.
The Patriots took the ensuing kick at the one yard line and were only able to return it to their own 10 yard line. After two tackles for losses and a procedure penalty, Pender found themselves with third down at the 2 yard line. The Pender quarterback dropped into the end zone and was quickly swarmed under by several Dark Horses, the Patriot signal caller fumbled and Prentice Murphy covered the loose ball for another Clinton score. The defensive score gave Clinton a 44 point lead at 57-13 and allowed the officials to order the clock operators to set the game clock to continuous run mode for the last thirteen minutes of the game.
The Dark Horses added one fourth quarter score when Albert Deaver scored on a 6 yard run with 5:30 remaining in the game, giving the Horses their final margin of victory at 64-13 with Chandler Perry’s successful PAT attempt.
Clinton posted an impressive stat sheet, with the offense racking up 497 total yards, 455 on the ground, while the defense held Pender to 120 yards of total offense with 65 of those yards coming on one pass play. Individually, Skinner led the Dark Horses with 161 yards on 8 carries with two touchdowns. Rayquan Faison tallied 97 yards on five carries and Tyion Wright ran the ball 8 times for 86 yards with two touchdowns. Defensively the Horses were led by Prentice Murphy with 10 stops and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Herbert Faison added 7 tackles with several of those stops resulting in losses for the Patriots.
After the game, Clinton head coach, Bob Lewis said, “the best thing about a game like this is you get to play a lot of people. We got everyone in the game tonight and had lots of players get on the stat sheet. I’m not sure how much a game like this gets us ready for East Bladen next week but it is a good win over a conference team.”
The lopsided win improves Clinton’s record to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in Four County Conference play. The Dark Horses return to action next Friday evening at home when they host the Eagles from East Bladen with kick off set for 7:30pm.