Knox West pulls out 13-7 win from Clinton in OT

Isaiah Washington fights for extra inches against a stingy rebel defense Friday night (photo:Tony Cox )
The Clinton High School Dragons (1-5, 0-2) led for most of the ballgame on Friday, but were unable to come away victorious.

The West Rebels (3-4, 1-2) stole a win from the Dragons in overtime, 13-7.

For Clinton, the loss puts them in fifth place in Region 3 5A standings — out of the playoffs. Ultimately, Friday night’s result was a tough one for everyone involved with Clinton football.

“We had our chances, we only had six penalties the entire game, we played good enough to win, the game-plan was good — we don’t always understand why things happen the way they do. I’m all in. I’m not giving up on these kids or this program, and we’re going to keep grinding,” said Clinton Head Coach Randy McKamey.

After grinding out a scoreless first quarter, the Dragons would strike first with an excellent eight-play, 67-yard drive that took 3:46 off the clock.

Senior athlete Isiah Washington would push Clinton into Rebels’ territory with a keeper up the middle, out of the wildcat formation. Senior running back Josh Breeden would carry on the next play and drew a Rebels’ horse collar penalty, which put the Dragons within striking distance. After two successive Washington carries out of the wildcat formation would take the Dragons down to the West 11-yardline, Josh Breeden capped off the drive when he took a dive play off right guard and went for six. Junior placekicker Noah Grumbach tacked on the extra point, and Clinton led 7-0 with 6:00 left to go in the first half.

The game would remain a stalemate until West’s last drive of the game. Facing a fourth down from their own 36, Clinton lined up to punt and flip the field. Unfortunately, a low, bobbled snap led to a blocked punt by Tyrece Edwards. The block completely changed the momentum of the game, and gave West and chance to tie the game. The Rebels faced two fourth downs on the drive, and would convert them both.

After West’s first fourth down conversion, on first down Sophomore Eli Deshomme stopped a West throw to the left flat in the backfield. After an incompletion on second down, Deshomme would make another huge play—making another big tackle for loss. “Eli Deshomme did a great job playing their screen game, he played his butt off,” said McKamey. Facing a fourth and 17, from the Clinton 26-yardline, Rebels’ signal caller Baker Dance heaved a desperation throw down the West sideline. In between Dragons’ defenders, somehow—the pass found the hands of Senior wide receiver Will Eggleston. The completion gave the Rebels’ a first and goal from the five-yardline. Two plays later, sophomore running back Isaiah Mattress punched it in from two yards out. The successful point after knotted the game 7-7 with 1:01 left to play in regulation. The Rebels’ game-tying drive consisted of ten plays, went 33 yards, and took 4:07 off the clock.

The Rebels won the overtime coin-toss, and Clinton got the ball first. From the ten-yardline, the Clinton offense pushed the ball down to the six in three plays, and faced a fourth and goal. The Dragons attempted a trick play, but it was sniffed out and stopped. “We had a play that we worked on all week—left guard special—I’ve ran it many times with great success. Somehow their linebacker found it,” said McKamey. West took over on downs, and needed points to end the ballgame. The Rebels did so on two plays. On first down, Matteress took a handoff down to the Clinton one-yardline. On the ensuing play, Matteress would punch in the game-winning score from a yard out, and West would steal a 13-7 overtime win.

The Dragons played well on both sides of the football. Clinton racked up 250 total yards, compared to the Rebels’ 162. Senior quarterback Luke Harrison went four-of-seven passing, for 46 yards. Isiah Washington led the Dragons on the ground with 81 yards on 20 touches. Josh Breeden followed with 63 yards and one touchdown on just 14 carries. “(Washington and Breeden) did a great job. Those guys are as good of backs as you will see in 5A football—they are big, fast, and strong,” said McKamey. The Dragons won the possession battle, holding the ball for 28:45, compared to West’s 19:15. Additionally, the Dragons tallied 13 first downs, while the Rebels only had 7, which is offensive success that Clinton hopes to carry into this week.

The Dragons are now 11-10 in overtime games, since it was introduced in 1973. The bitter aftertaste of the heartbreaking loss will be used as motivation this week, but Clinton’s search for a second win does not get any easier. The Dragons will travel to play Region 3 leader Fulton High School this Friday. Opening kickoff against the Falcons is scheduled for 7:30.