Dragons impressive in shutout win
Roaring out of the starting gates, the Clinton Dragons rolled up 34 first-quarter points Friday en route to a 48-0 win over visiting William Blount in the season opener for both teams.
Team 100 in school history put away the game early before a full house of eager Dragon fans as quarterback Joshuah Keith went 8-for-12 for 224 yards and three touchdowns. Lucas Kendall recorded two of the receiving touchdowns and D’mon Marable one.
Jawan Goins rushed for two touchdowns for the Dragons, and Erreese King and Elijah Batiste added one TD apiece on the ground. King led the Dragons in rushing with four carries for 71 yards.
Clinton harassed Governors quarterback Brett Cortez into four sacks for 45 yards lost, and the William Blount signal caller finished with minus-62 yards rushing on 10 attempts. Rhett Seivers, Dylan Spurlock, Marable, and Batiste had one sack each for the home team.
“I was really impressed with the aggression,” said Dragon Head Coach Darell Keith. “I think the overall aggression and strength of the team and the speed combined kind of caught them by surprise. My heart goes out to William Blount’s head coach. I’ve been in those shoes before. He’s doing some new things. People need to give him some time.”
Keith added that “one thing I did like is they had effort, not always execution, but sometimes effort makes up for execution. They hustled. I’ll give you an example. Keith mishandled the ball, but he stayed calm and composed, and the kids did a scramble drill and it turned into a touchdown.”
Clinton opened the game with passes to Goins and Braylon Taylor before Goins ripped off a 38-yard touchdown run. Jacob Prewitt nailed the first of his six extra points to make it 7-0 Dragons with only 44 seconds gone in the first quarter.
William Blount fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Riley Silk recovered for Clinton. Three plays later, King scored on a 7-yard run, and the Dragons led 13-0.
Clinton forced a punt, and Keith hit Marable on a 52-yard touchdown pass to make it 20-0. Three plays later, Teegan Bolinger intercepted a pass and returned it 19 yards to give the Dragons possession again. In only one play, Clinton scored again as Keith connected with Kendall, who made a nifty catch, on a 26-yard TD pass for a 27-0 lead with 5:30 still to play in the first period.
Two sacks led to a Governors punt, and Clinton scored again. Batiste reeled off a 28-yard run to set up his 7-yard scoring rush, and the Dragons led 34-0 with 2:23 left in the first quarter. On the TD, Keith took a high snap, and Batiste snatched it out of the air and motored into the end zone.
The teams traded punts and also traded interceptions, with Derek Bean snagging a pickoff for the Dragons, before Clinton scored again late in the half. King rambled 59 yards to set up the Dragons for a 7-yard Goins touchdown run and a 41-0 lead with 2:39 remaining. Goins encountered pressure on the scoring play but fought his way into the end zone.
Clinton outgained William Blount 331 yards to minus-12 in the first half.
With a running clock in the second half because of the mercy rule, the Dragons had only one possession. Keith nailed a 71-yard touchdown pass to Kendall for a 48-0 lead with 11:36 left in the game. On the play, Keith bobbled the snap twice before finding a wide-open Kendall deep down the left sideline.
“The coaching seems to be a whole lot better,” head coach Keith said. “The kids seem to be responding to the coaching, and, man, it was just electrifying to watch those kids play tonight.
“We were quite balanced tonight. I thought our running game at times was stronger than our passing game, but then we would do something exceptionally well in the passing game. I thought Keith came out extremely accurate in the first half. He had a couple of stalled drives because of some penalties, but I thought we picked it up pretty good. We pulled the reins back a little bit. I’m not here to beat anybody down. I know what it feels like.”
The Dragons outgained the Governors 403 to 98 for the game, including 179-11 on the ground. Blane Collins boomed a 47-yarder on Clinton’s only punt of the game.