The Red Devil defense allowed 271 yards but denied the Rebels the one they needed. In fact, Mid-Carolina (0-7, 0-2 Region 3-3A) got two stabs at a game-tying conversion after Clinton (3-4, 1-1) got a facemask penalty on the first stop. Senior Jishon Payne, just inserted in the line, stuffed the second try at the one, and that was the play that saved the game with 1:24 remaining.
“It was a heck of a football play by a heck of a football player,” Clinton head coach Andrew Webb said.
Elijah Campbell recovered Mid-Carolina’s subsequent onsides kick.
Mid-Carolina led 7-0, 14-7 and 20-14, the last marking the score at the end of three quarters. Statistically, the game was almost a tossup. The Red Devils led in rushing yardage, 191-111, and in total yards, 292-271, but Mid-Carolina’s Cade Ruff completed 11 of his 19 passes for 160 yards. The Red Devils’ Konnor Richardson wasn’t bad – 6-11 for 77 yards – and running back Mark Wise completed an option pass to Dawson Green for 21 yards on a fourth-and-five from the Rebel 29 on the final Clinton scoring drive.
All the Red Devil points came from Kris Holmes – on runs of one, five, one and four yards – and junior Sam Tiller, who kicked all four extra points and came in handy at outside linebacker, as well.
Clinton opened up its offense in the second half after spending most of the first half sending Holmes and Mark Wise (54 yards on 16 carries) between the tackles.
“We want to be able to line up and run the football, but there comes a point when you’ve got to say, let’s try something different,” Webb said. “We made some good throws and big catches.”
Ball control was, as usual, the chief weapon in the Clinton arsenal. The Red Devils led in time of possession, 32:55-15:05, but on the flip side, Clinton averaged only 4.2 yards for each of its 70 plays. Mid-Carolina ran 37 plays for an average gain of 7.3.
As the score went back and forth – the Red Devils never led until there was 7:38 remaining and Tiller’s PAT made it 28-20 – Webb had to shift some gears in the offense to meet the urgency of being behind.
“I was pleased with our pace,” he said. “That was one area where we met the needs of the game.”
The Red Devils never committed a turnover, and they could never afford one.
MC – Jack Edwards 12 pass from Cade Ruff (Drew Dominick kick) 8:04 1st
C – Kris Holmes 1 run (Sam Tiller kick) 7:54 2nd
MC – B.J. Tobe 44 run (Dominick kick) 6:24 2nd
C – Holmes 5 run (Tiller kick) 1:13 2nd
MC – Jalen Bates 5 run (Dominick kick) 1:38 3rd
C – Holmes 1 run (Tiller kick) 7:38 4th
C – Holmes 4 run (Tiller kick) 2:28 4th
MC – Bates 7 run (run failed) 1:24 4th
RUSHING: Clinton, Holmes 30-136, Mark Wise 16-54, Totals 58-194; Mid-Carolina, Tobe 2-50, Mason Hawkins 5-31, Bates 4-21, Totals 18-111.
PASSING: Clinton, Konnor Richardson 6-11-0 77, Wise 1-1-0 21, Totals 7-12-0 98; Mid-Carolina, Ruff 11-19-0 160.
RECEIVING: Clinton, Tquan Cromer 4-57, Dawson Green 2-35, Ty Priestley 1-6; Mid-Carolina, Bates 5-71, Edwards 2-42, Tobe 2-14.