The Clinton Dragons came out on the wrong end of another defensive battle as they fell at Knoxville West by a score of 7-0 last Friday night.
Freshman quarterback Jacob Brock got the start for the Dragons but both offenses struggled early as the two teams spent the first quarter trading possessions.
The second quarter looked to be a replay of the first as neither offense could get on track. The Rebels caught a break late in the half when quarterback Preston Wardell completed a 46-yard pass to Daniel Ledbetter. It was a short screen and Ledbetter broke a tackle and got away for the huge gain.
One play later, Wardell scored on a short run.
Logan Bowers added the extra point and West carried a 7-0 lead into halftime.
The Dragons tried repeatedly to get their offense going in the third and fourth quarter but were stopped by a very good West defense.
Clinton played excellent defense as well. They held the Rebels scoreless in the second half but the lone score was enough for the home team to escape with the win.
“The defense played probably our best game of the year. The defense has played well all year but they played really well against a good West team,” said Randy McKamey, head coach of the Dragons.
The offensive highlights for Clinton were few.
Brock was a solid 6-10 passing for 48 yards with no turnovers.
“I thought he did a great job leading the offense. Being a freshman, he had some jitters early but for the most part, I couldn’t have asked for anything more coming from a freshman in a game like that. West is the best defense we’ve seen all year. They’ve got some big up front guys that are very, very good,” McKamey said.
Cody Parker led the team with 25 yards rushing. Seven different Dragons carried the ball Friday night.
“Late in the first quarter we had a good little drive going and we down to about the [West] 28-yard line and a penalty brought us back. That’s been kind of the name of the game for us. We just shoot ourselves in the foot. We’re not great offensively, therefore we don’t do well on first and 15,” McKamey said.
“There are no quick fixes. It starts up front with us. For four or five years, they [offensive line] have been a Tony Franklin-spread offense with their heels back for pass blocking. We’re trying to get them to put their hand on the ground and drive block. That doesn’t get fixed overnight,” he said.
Injuries and inexperience — all starters from last year were lost to graduation.
“We have a brand new offensive line and they’re trying to learn a brand new system on the fly and it’s tough. We’re bring exposed,” McKamey said.
“In spite of everything, I’m impressed with the way our guys are battling. We adopted the motto ‘On the rise.’ We didn’t adopt the motto, ‘Risen.’ We are on the rise and the little things are happening. Our seniors are setting the pace. They will look back in a year or two, we’ll be winning and it will be because of them and their leadership,” he said.
Defensively, Isaiah Washington led Clinton with 11 total tackles, including a quarterback sack and 2.5 tackles for losses.
Jayven Booker also had 11 total tackles, including 2.5 for losses.
Parker had nine tackles while Ro Hardin had six.
Jackson Leinart had six tackles and a quarterback sack.
Andrew Shoopman had an interception and three tackles.
Friday marked the third consecutive game in which the Dragons have been shut out.
According to statistician Dan McWilliams, the last time Clinton suffered three consecutive shutout losses was 2011.
Friday’s game was also the lowest total points scored in a Dragons’ game since their 6-0 win over Oak Ridge in 1992.
With the loss, the Dragons fall to 2-4 (0-2 in Region 3-5A) while the Rebels run their record to 4-3 (2-1 in the region).
Clinton will host perennial power Fulton on Friday.
Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
First downs 5 8
Rushing yds. 27 148
Passing yds. 48 63
Comp/att/int 6-12-0 3-12-1
Total yds. 75 211
Turnovers 0 1
Penalties 8-52 7-69
Time of poss. 26:04 21:56