The Clinton Dragons came out on the short end of the shootout no one saw coming on Saturday night in Seymour.
The Dragons fell to the Eagles by a score of 35-34 following what was nearly a comeback for the ages.
After Clinton stopped Seymour on the opening drive of the game and forced a punt, the Dragons took over on their own 26-yard line.
Runs by Josh Breeden and Reagan McKamey gave the Dragons a first down at their own 38-yard line but the drive stalled and Clinton punted.
Seymour’s Naaman Webb returned the punt 77 yards for the score.
Will Zamboni kicked the extra point and the Eagles claimed a 7-0 lead with 7:47 remaining in the first quarter.
The Dragons answered with a 15-play drive that consumed the rest of the first quarter and lasted well into the second quarter as they went from their own 15-yard line to the Seymour 13. The drive featured runs by Breeden, McKamey, Cooper, Isaiah Washington, and Andrew Shoopman.
It appeared Clinton scored a touchdown when Jacob Brock completed a halfback pass to Cody Parker, but the score was erased on an ineligible downfield penalty. The Dragons turned the ball over on downs at the Seymour 18-yard line.
The Clinton defense held and forced a quick three and out but the offense could not pick up a first down and punted the ball back to the Eagles.
Seymour put together a seven-play, 60-yard that ended with a 27-yard scramble for touchdown by quarterback Grayson Campbell.
Zamboni added the PAT and the Eagles took a 14-0 lead with 4:21 left in the first half.
Following the ensuing kickoff, the Dragons again failed to pick up a first down and punted again,
The Eagles went 63 yards in seven plays as Campbell scored on a six-yard run with 10.5 seconds left in the half.
The Zamboni extra point gave Seymour a 21-0 lead at the half.
Clinton received the kickoff to open the second half and it looked like a different offense had taken the field. Three plays into the half, Breeden scored on 62-yard run.
Noah Grumbach booted the extra point and the Dragons trailed 21-7 with 10:28 remaining in the third quarter.
The momentum did not carry over to the Clinton defense as the Eagles responded with a quick five-play, 55-yard drive that was capped by a two-yard touchdown run by Nic Childress.
Zamboni added the PAT to extend the Seymour lead to 28-7 with 8:57 left in the quarter.
After team each traded possessions, the Dragons took over on their own 24-yard line. The ground attack of Breeden and Washington dominated the drive but perhaps the most impressive run of the drive was a 24-yard run by Shoopman, who dragged several defenders for most of that distance. Breeden scored on a six-yard run to end the nine-play, 76-yard drive.
Grumbach kicked the extra point to cut the Seymour lead to 28-14 with 1:35 left in the third quarter.
The Eagles answered quickly as Campbell fired a 61-yard touchdown pass to Jeremiah Catali.
Zamboni slid onto the field in time to kick the extra point to give Seymour a 35-14 lead with seven seconds left in the third quarter.
Just when it appeared the Dragons were finished, they proved they could still breathe fire.
Clinton opened the fourth quarter with a four-play drive that covered 61 yards. The drive was capped by a 27-yard touchdown run by Breeden.
Grumbach added the PAT and the Seymour advantage was trimmed to 35-21 with 10:53 left in the game.
The Dragons then recovered an onside kick at the 50-yard line. Harrison completed a 30-yard pass to Eli Deshomme. Two plays later, he threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to McKamey.
Grumbach was true with the extra point and with 8:44 left in regulation, Clinton suddenly trailed 35-28.
The Dragons defense stopped the Eagles as Trevor Linderman, Luke Johnson, and Ty Herrell shut down the Seymour ground game and forced a punt.
The Clinton offense sputtered and the punted the ball away.
Seymour again tried to put the game away but the Dragon’s defense stepped up and forced a punt, giving Clinton the ball on its own 42-yard line with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.
Harrison completed short passes to Anthony Krause and Jacob Bingham. He also scrambled for 12 yards. Shoopman and Breeden picked up nice chunks of yardage to put the Dragons in the red zone.
On fourth and 11 from the 15-yard line, Washington ran the ball into the end zone for the score with 9.2 seconds left on the clock.
Head coach Randy McKamey opted to go for the two-point conversion and it looked as though the Dragons had pulled one out as they converted but a holding penalty negated the attempt and pushed the ball back to the 15-yard line.
McKamey again eschewed the kick and called for the two-point conversion try. The pass attempt was incomplete and the Eagles held on to win by the narrowest of margins at 35-34.
“I think the point to hammer home tonight for our team is to understand how to play four quarters of football. We’re taking these little baby steps and tonight I think it may have been an explosion of aha moment of ‘if we play four quarters of football we can beat anybody.’ We played two quarters and I mean that. We didn’t didn’t play four,” McKamey said.
“We played bad in the first half. We challenged them at halftime. I walked out of the locker room not really knowing what we had — I’m being honest. They had to show us. We didn’t breathe hellfire and damnation. We just told them that their backs were against the wall and asked them what they were going to do,” he said.
He also talked about the decision to go for the two-point conversion at the end of the game.
“We had no timeouts. It was a very short time to think about it and there were a lot of emotions because we scored. The white hat [referee] was frustrated because of a previous [Clinton] injury. I don’t what happened - he was all over us so we had to rush up there and call a play. Without a timeout that was a tough call to make. It’s one of those things as a coach that has to be split-second. It’s just part of it,” McKamey said.
Breeden led the Dragons with 135 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 10 carries. Washington had 53 yards on 10 carries and Shoopman had 56 yards on eight carries.
Harrison finished the game 7-14 for 92 yards and a touchdown pass.
Deshomme led Clinton with two receptions for 40 yards while five other players each had one reception.
Defensively, Linderman led the Dragons with nine total tackles, including a sack. Parker had seven total tackles, Johnson had six total tackles, and Herrell had four total tackles.
The game was the fourth all-time meeting between Clinton and Seymour. It marked the Dragons first loss in the series.
Clinton fell to 1-1 and will enjoy an open week before returning to action on Thursday, Sept. 6, when they visit crosstown rival Anderson County at 7 p.m. for a televised game.
First downs 22 11
Rush yds. 282 105
Pass yds. 92 234
Total yds. 374 314
Comp/att/int 7-15-0 8-17-0
Turnovers 0 0
Penalties 6-31 8-71
Time of poss. 29:27 18:33