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Panthers too much for Dragons in Thursday night game

Chauncey Felts’ 82-yard TD kickoff return is Clinton’s third in September

Dragons senior quarterback Joshuah Keith was 18-for-23 for 181 yards and two touchdowns against the Panthers last Thursday night. (photo:Shari Wandell-Bryant )
The Clinton Dragons let homestanding Powell bolt out to a 28-7 halftime lead Thursday as the Panthers went on to win 45-27 at Scarbro Stadium.

The non-region game was the Rivalry Thursday TV contest for the week. It left the Dragons with a 2-3 overall record. Powell improved to 3-2.

The Panthers won their fifth-straight game on the field in the series with Clinton dating to the Dragons’ last win in 2014. A 2018 Powell win was later forfeited to Clinton.

The Panthers dominated time of possession against Clinton in the latest matchup, holding the ball 32 minutes, 36 seconds, to the Dragons’ 15:24. Powell ran 62 plays on offense to Clinton’s 37, and outgained the Dragons 391 yards to 263. A 20-point fourth quarter by Clinton made the game a little closer.

Clinton quarterback Joshuah Keith was 18-for-23 passing for 181 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He also led the Dragons in rushing with seven carries for 59 yards and a TD.

Chauncey Felts returned a kickoff 82 yards for a Dragon touchdown, the third straight game in which Clinton returned a kick for a score.

Running back Jawan Goins, with Clinton passing more to try and catch up, ran the ball only six times, for 21 yards, but caught five passes for 33 yards and a TD. Jeremiah Lee reeled in a team-best six catches for the Dragons for 68 yards and a score. Deameion Leavell added three catches for 59 yards, including the team’s longest pass play of 34 yards. Bryson Maddox caught three passes for 21 yards.

Three Clinton tacklers posted double-digit totals. D’Mon Marable led the Dragons with 18 tackles, seven solo, and a half-tackle for loss.

Jerius Hundley piled up 13 tackles, and Felts 10 plus a half-tackle for loss. Leavell made nine tackles, and Eric Page eight. Jayson Graham added seven tackles with two tackles for loss. Derek Bean recorded seven tackles and recovered a fumble. Jaxon Herrell made four tackles, two for losses totaling seven yards. LaVelle Pendergrass forced a fumble, and Goins broke up a pass.

Powell running back Connor Wheeler carried the ball 25 times for 191 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Deuce Rodgers, one of two signal-callers who played in the game for the Panthers, added 98 yards on 15 rush attempts with two TDs. Keshaun Jackson ran 10 times for 66 yards and a TD for the home team. Powell passed the ball only seven times in the game, completing five for 19 yards.

The Panthers took the opening kickoff and drove from their own 35-yard line to the Dragon 28 before turning the ball over on downs. Felts made a tackle to stop Wheeler on a fourth-and-6 play from the 31, limiting him to 3 yards to give the ball to Clinton.

The Dragons then fumbled the ball once but recovered it. They would end up punting after three plays.

Powell took possession at its own 31 and drove 69 yards in 12 plays for the game’s first touchdown, chewing up more than 5 minutes off the first-quarter clock. Wheeler ran three times for 11-yard gains before Rodgers scored the TD on a 1-yard carry. Dylan Stooksbury’s extra-point kick gave the Panthers a 7-0 lead with 39 seconds left in the quarter.

After a Stooksbury touchback, Goins made his best run of the night with a 13-yard carry for Clinton’s initial first down of the game. Leavell caught a 14-yard pass two plays later to move the sticks again on the first play of the second quarter. But the Dragons’ drive would stall at the Powell 46, and Blane Collins made his second punt of the game for Clinton.

Powell went on the march again, going 75 yards in seven plays for another score. Wheeler ran 40 yards on the second play of the drive, the longest gain of the night for either team, to move the ball from the Panther 28 to the Clinton 32. Second quarterback Jaylon Benjamin, who entered the game on the drive, ran 15 yards for another first down. Wheeler scored the TD on a 5-yard run. The extra point gave Powell a 14-0 lead with 6:16 to go in the half

Nikko McDonald sacked Keith for an 8-yard loss on the next Dragon drive, and the Clinton quarterback threw a rare interception soon afterward. Powell’s Kailas Clearman picked off the pass and returned it 15 yards to the Dragon 10-yard line. Wheeler scored on a 9-yard run two plays later for a 21-0 Powell advantage.

A fumble on the kickoff return gave the Panthers another possession that started in Dragon territory. Jackson recovered the loose ball and advanced it 5 yards to the Clinton 17. Rodgers scored from there on the next play to give the hosts a 28-0 lead with 3:49 remaining in the half.

The Dragons launched their first scoring drive after a touchback, moving 80 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown. Leavell caught an 11-yard pass from Keith while Maddox hauled in a 12-yard toss. Both plays moved the chains. Lee had a first-down catch covering 14 yards, before the Dragons made three consecutive first-down plays to end the drive. Keith ran for 17 yards and Goins for 13 more to set up Clinton on the Powell 14. Goins caught a short pass from Keith on the next play, made the first man miss, and weaved his way left to the end zone. Emanuel Ortiz’s extra-point kick cut the Powell lead to 28-7 with 9 seconds left in the second quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff, Bean recovered a Panther fumble forced by Pendergrass as time expired in the half.

Stooksbury opened the second half with an onside kick and recovered it himself at the Dragon 49-yard line. The Panthers would ultimately turn the ball over on downs, despite runs of 13 yards by Wheeler and 17 yards by Rodgers. Powell made it to the Dragon 6-yard line before Rodgers was stopped by Page and Gage Wergin for no gain on a run.

The Dragons would also turn the ball over on their next drive. Lee caught a 16-yard pass and Keith made a 17-yard run, but Clinton lost a fumble in Panther territory. Adrian Daugherty recovered on the play for Powell and advanced the ball 9 yards back across midfield to the Dragon 45.

The Panthers reached the end zone in eight plays, the longest being a 15-yard Wheeler run. Wheeler tallied the TD on a 4-yard carry for a 35-7 lead with 29 seconds left in the third period.

Lee returned the kickoff 15 yards and was hit out of bounds, moving the ball another 15 yards to give Clinton possession at its own 38-yard line. Another late-hit personal foul on the Panthers gave the Dragons a first down at the Powell 43. Keith ran for 15 yards and a first down, and two plays later hit Lee on a 29-yard TD pass on the second play of the fourth quarter. Ortiz’s kick cut the Powell advantage to 35-14 with 11:45 remaining in the game.

The Panthers would then eat up 8:42 off the clock as they went on a 14-play drive that culminated with a 29-yard field goal by Stooksbury for a 38-14 lead with 3:03 left.

Felts returned the kickoff and drew the Panthers’ third late-hit penalty to move the ball 15 yards to the Clinton 41. After an offsides flag on Powell, Leavell caught a 34-yard pass from Keith, who was under heavy pressure on the play, to advance the Dragons to the Powell 20. Goins caught a 6-yard pass before Keith ran in a 14-yard TD. Ortiz’s kick made it a 38-21 game with 1:53 on the clock.

Daugherty recovered another onside kick, and Jackson scored two plays later on a 49-yard run. The kick gave Powell at 45-21 lead with 53 seconds left in the game.

Felts caught the next kickoff at his own 18-yard line and motored 82 yards for the Dragons’ final score of the night. The extra-point kick was wide left, but Clinton had provided the final margin of 45-27 with 39 seconds remaining. The Panthers then ran out the clock on a win.

The Dragons host longtime rival Oak Ridge this Friday in a Region 3-5A contest.