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Dragons pick up big region win at Campbell County

  • Dressed up and no place to go: D’mon Marable and Jeremiah Lee take the feet from under Campbell County’s Keagon Cowan last Friday. The Dragons started their region run with a sound defeat of the Cougars. - Shari Wandell-Bryant

  • Clinton’s Gawan Goins had another sterling perfomance last Friday at Campbell County. - Shari Wandell-Bryant

The Clinton Dragons built up a big halftime lead for the second straight week Friday, this time en route to a 55-14 thrashing of Campbell County in the Region 3-5A opener for both teams in LaFollette.

Clinton (2-2, 1-0) allowed an opening touchdown by the Cougars (2-2, 0-1) and then scored eight of the next nine TDs in the game as they went up 35-14 at the half.

Jawan Goins scored four times for the Dragons, rushing seven times for 107 yards and two TDs, and catching three passes for 88 yards and two more scores.

Quarterback Joshuah Keith went 12-for-17 passing for 224 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for the Dragons.

Jeremiah Lee returned a kick for a touchdown for the second straight week for Clinton, scoring on a 73-yard kickoff return after tallying on a punt return the previous week at Scott. Lee also caught a 60-yard TD pass from Keith and made three receptions for 74 yards.

Deameion Leavell rushed for two TDs for Clinton, which outgained Campbell County 409 yards to 235. Leavell led Dragon pass-catchers with four receptions for 41 yards.

Clinton posted its highest score since putting up its all-time best in a 75-43 win at Heritage in 2015. The Dragons also ended a three-game losing streak to Campbell County, which had won eight of the last 10 against Clinton in the series.

Clinton avenged last year’s 54-48 loss to the Cougars in overtime on the same field by scoring one more point against Campbell County this season than the hosts did last year against the Dragons.

Clinton’s win Friday ended a five-game losing streak against region foes.

The Dragons did not put the ball on the ground and played turnover-free ball while collecting a fumble and two interceptions against the Cougars. Clinton also made three sacks on defense while not allowing any, and the Dragon offense punted only once in the game.

Leavell and David Ortiz made interceptions for the Dragons, and D’Mon Marable, LaVelle Pendergrass, and Jerius Hundley recorded a sack apiece.

Hundley led Dragon tacklers with nine total hits and also recovered a fumble for Clinton. Marable added eight tackles and forced two fumbles. Chauncey Felts made seven tackles and Pendergrass six, including two tackles for loss totaling 16 yards. Derek Bean also had six tackles for Clinton and one pass breakup. Bo Wright and Lee made five tackles apiece and Gage Wergin four.

The Dragon defense allowed only 14 yards rushing on 21 carries for the Cougars. After holding Scott to minus-25 yards on the ground one week before, Clinton has now allowed its last two opponents to rush for a combined minus-11 yards.

Campbell County had its best drive on the opening series of the game. Clinton got off to a shaky start with an offsides penalty and an illegal-procedure flag before it could get off the opening kick. The Cougars then moved 52 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown, mostly on the running of Keagon Cowan, who opened the game with a 17-yard run and later had a 13-yard carry in the drive. Gavin Owens toted the ball the last two times for Campbell County, scoring a touchdown on a 1-yard run. Rylan Sanders’ extra-point kick gave the home team a 7-0 lead with 7:39 remaining in the first quarter.

Lee answered quickly for Clinton, picking up Sanders’ squib kick at his own 27-yard line and motoring 73 yards for a touchdown. Emanuel Ortiz added the first of his five extra points, and the Dragons had tied the game 7-7 with 7:26 to go in the opening period.

A Marable sack of Cougar quarterback Landen Hensley for a 2-yard loss on third down led to the first of three Campbell County punts in the game. Clinton took over at its own 9-yard line and moved 91 yards in nine plays to take the lead. Leavell caught a 16-yard Keith pass for one first down, and Goins showed great balance in making a 16-yard run later in the drive to move the sticks again. On second-and-10-from the Cougar 32, Keith was almost sacked on a play but squeezed off a short pass to Goins. Goins then made at least a half-dozen moves as he wiggled his way to the end zone on the final play of the quarter. Ortiz’s kick gave Clinton a 14-7 lead.

Bean broke up a pass on the next Cougar drive, and Leavell stepped in front of a receiver to make an interception, returning it 20 yards to the Dragon 40.

Keith then struck quickly ,hitting Lee down the left sideline at the Cougar 30 with his next pass, and the Dragon receiver completed a 60-yard scoring play. Ortiz’s kick gave Clinton a 21-7 advantage with 10:39 left in the half.

On Campbell County’s next drive, Pendergrass caused an 11-yard loss as he forced Hensley into an intentional-grounding penalty, which was recorded as a sack. That led to another Cougar punt and another Dragon TD.

Clinton took over at the Campbell County 43-yard line. After a 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct foul on the home team, the Dragons scored on the next play as Goins weaved his way up the middle for 20 yards. Ortiz’s kick went off the left upright, but Clinton had a 27-7 lead with 8:39 showing on the second-quarter clock.

Campbell County responded with a three-play, 70-yard drive, getting a 35-yard Hensley toss to Timmy Gibson and a 31-yard TD pass to Gabe St. John. Sanders’ kick brought the Cougars to within 27-14 with 7:13 left in the half.

The hosts surprised the Dragons with an onside kick and recovered it to set up another drive at the Clinton 49. The Cougars moved the ball to the Dragon 6 before making a high snap from center for a 5-yard loss, with Pendergrass making the tackle on the play. Three plays later from the 1, disaster struck as another high snap from center led to a 25-yard loss. Hundley recovered the loose ball for Clinton to give the Dragons possession at their own 26 with 3:04 to go in the half.

Clinton used the clock efficiently, moving 74 yards in seven plays for a touchdown that came with only 2.1 seconds remaining in the half. Bryson Maddox caught an 11-yard Keith pass for one first down, and Goins and Leavell moved the sticks with a 20-yard run and an 11-yard pass, respectively. Clinton called timeout with 14 seconds remaining and facing a third-and-nine situation at the Cougar 36. Keith then completed a 12-yard pass to Leavell for a first down. With 7.7 seconds on the clock, Keith found Goins at the 5-yard line over the middle, and the Dragon running back stepped into the end zone for Clinton’s fifth TD of the half. A two-point-conversion run by Goins made it a 35-14 Dragon advantage at the break.

Clinton opened the second half with a 12-yard Leavell return of another squib kickoff by the Cougars. The Dragons then moved 46 yards in three plays for another TD. Goins took a pitch right and ran 23 yards, Hundley made a 7-yard gain on an inside handoff, and Goins scored on a 16-yard run up the middle. Ortiz’s extra point gave Clinton a 42-14 lead only 1:15 into the third quarter.

The Dragon defense answered on the next play as David Ortiz made an interception, closing in as a pass tipped off of Cowan’s hands and into the Clinton defender’s mitts.

The Dragons, taking over at the Cougar 37, scored in only three plays. Goins showed more good moves on a 32-yard pass play to the 3-yard line, and Leavell scored on a run on the next play. Emanuel Ortiz’s kick gave Clinton a 49-14 lead.

That invoked mercy-rule timing for the second straight week in a Clinton win.

With the running clock, Bean made a good hit on a Cougar receiver and Hundley sacked Hensley for a 5-yard loss. That led to both teams trading punts.

On Campbell County’s next drive, as the fourth quarter dawned, lineman Eric Page of Clinton made a tackle on fourth-and-inches against Owens. The play went for no gain and turned the ball back over to the Dragons.

Clinton put together a 71-yard scoring drive in nine plays to finish off the win. Braylen Hayden caught a 10-yard Keith pass, and Chauncey Felts made first-down runs of 7 and 8 yards. Hundley ran 11 yards to set up first-and-goal at the 8, and Leavell carried the ball into the end zone on the next play with 3:34 left in the contest. Campbell County blocked the extra point, leaving the final score at 55-14.

The Dragons are back in action this Thursday at Powell, now a non-region opponent, in the Rivalry Thursday TV game.