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Clinton spoils homecoming hopes

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By Chris Cannon

For the first time since Oct. 1, 2010, the Clinton Dragons were able to line up in the victory formation on a Friday night.

Clinton snapped their 17-game losing streak, coming to L. Hope Dossett Stadium to put a damper on homecoming festivities.

“Streaks are made to be broken,” Campbell County head coach Justin Price said. “You never want to be on the end that causes that. My hat’s off to Clinton. It just wasn’t our night, and we weren’t ready to play. I take responsibility for that.”

For Clinton head coach Josh Kerr, it was a win that was a long time coming. Two weeks ago, they came close to taking down Hardin Valley, but a fourth-and-inches miscue gave them the loss 13-10.

However, Friday night, they were able to hold on with an interception in the final minutes to seal the victory 24-8 over the Cougars.

“It’s been a long, long road,” an emotional Kerr said. “The valleys were so low, but we kept on fighting and getting close. You could see the gap shortening, and we were right there at it. Tonight, we finally stood up and took a win.

“Our kids battled hard. That Campbell County squad never quit. The game was in question all the way until the end. That win’s been a long time coming.”

For the Cougars, it was Bo Farris who stole the show. The speedy senior stepped up big, hauling in four receptions for 61 yards and the team’s only score. He also took it the three yards for the score on a two-point conversion.

“For the last two or three weeks, Bo has really picked up his game a bit,” Price said. “He’s a senior that gets it. He leads by example in practice, and we know that we’ve got to get him the ball.”

He also capped off his night with three tackles on the defensive side of the ball.  However, to Farris, his team wasn’t ready to play.

“I don’t think we came out to play really,” he said. “We had a lot of distractions, but you can’t blame it on that. We just didn’t come out to play. We couldn’t get their offense off the field.”

Clinton managed 274 yards, 212 of those coming across the ground. During the first half, the Dragons averaged over 5 yards a carry during the first half, as they carried 23 times for 125 yards.

Running the ball, Clinton managed the clock well. In the first half, they managed 29 plays to the Cougars 20. For the game, the Dragons held the ball for 28:32 compared to Campbell County’s 19:28.

“They just kind of kept the ball,” Price said.

Clinton got things started on their first drive of the game. An 11-play, 67-yard drive was capped off as Alex Willard connected with Nick Richmond from 13 yards out. Tom Stier’s kick sailed true, as the Dragons led 7-0 as the drive took over half of the first quarter. The clock stood at 5:44.

With 9:13 left in the second quarter, Clinton struck again. The 40-yard drive only took two plays, as Willard rushed for 3 yards on the first. Dylan Dotson finished things up, going 37 yards across the ground for a 14-0 advantage.

With 4:05 left in the half, Clinton’s point was mishandled by Trey Torres, as Clinton was able to recover on the Cougar 30-yard line. Nine plays later, Willard spiked the ball just before the clock struck zero in order to set up the score. Willard’s 22-yard kick sailed true, as the Dragons took a 17-0 score to the locker room.

The Cougars came out hot in the second half. Their opening drive saw 13 plays result in 75 yards. Ethan Jeffers led the way, completing seven-of-eight for 75 yards. His last throw, a 15-yard strike, connected with Farris crossing the middle of the end zone. The reverse from Jeffers to Ethan Miller to Farris scored the two-point conversion, as Campbell County trailed 17-8 with 6:11 left in the third quarter.

With 3:47 left in the game, Clinton found the dagger. Dotson took the ball 19 yards for the score, as Clinton won 24-8.

“When you’re trying to build a program, sometimes you lose big, then lose small, win small, then win big,” Price said. “Like (former Maryville College coach Tony) Ierulli said, the biggest change is from losing close to winning close. This year, we’re a few plays away from having a lot of wins.