A great catch and an unstoppable runner

1.7 seconds – no problem – four photos, with stats as a PDF.


Justin Copeland’s sky-high catch of a Bryce Young pass and fight for the end zone as time expired in the first half was the highlight reel play from a run-dominated 59-20 Clinton home win Friday over Woodruff.

The win puts 8-0 Clinton, the #3 ranked team in State AAA, in an unenviable position for this coming Friday – win in a tough Chester venue to claim the Region 4 Championship. The Cyclones upheld their end of the bargain, a 33-13 win over Emerald, to bring the region title game to their stadium. This will be Chester’s final regular season game, since the Cyclones must have a bye week playing in a 5-team region – Clinton’s bye was last Friday, a time to heal and regroup.

But the Red Devils came into the Woodruff game a quarterback down, as starter Austin.Copeland was down and back-up Bryce Young was next man up. To counter what the Wolverines would throw at the junior back-up, Clinton did what it does.

It ran.

And ran some more.

Clinton’s 526 yards on 45 carries broke a single-game rushing record that has stood since 2005 -- 522 yards against Wade Hampton. Scoring 3 touchdowns, Bryson James accounted for 193 of those yards. Young added 4 completions in 6 passing attempts for 92 yards.

In addition to his scoring catch, Justin Copeland added a pick-six, a 55-yard return, to Clinton’s impressive scoring column. Clinton Football Head Coach Corey Fountain said, “We were executing well on offense all first half (but) we were giving up big plays on defense … we locked in in the second half and didn’t give up those big plays, and they couldn’t sustain drives.”

Woodruff doomed itself the first two times they had the ball, with 3 and outs and poor punting that gave Clinton short fields. Jayden Robinson and Jishun Copeland found the end zone before Justin Copeland’s pick-six. Woodruff scored on a long pass, but then James scored the first of his 3 touchdowns.

Woodruff fought back with another long scoring pass, and the Wolverines scored again on a long run, a pass, and a scoring burst on the ground with 27.6 seconds before halftime. But between those tallies, Jishun Copeland ran in a touchdown, and with 1.7 second left on the clock, Justin Copeland capped the first half for Clinton with a 39-yard touchdown catch from Young and not-to-be-denied run for the front corner of the end zone.

To make the catch, he trapped the ball against the side of his helmet (ok, maybe his shoulder pad).

That score came with no time left on the first half clock.

It made the score 39-20.

Woodruff would not score again.

After Madison Swindler was crowned the Clinton High School Homecoming Queen at halftime, James took Clinton’s first possession of the second half into the end zone. Trey Cook scored for Clinton, and James came back again for the end zone with 1:53 left in the 3rd quarter. From there, Clinton just played defense and ended the game deep in Woodruff territory in the Victory formation.

Woodruff managed just over 300 yards of offense. Clinton tallied 26 first downs, 45 runs for 526 yards, 4 completions in 6 pass attempts for 92 yards – that’s 51 plays for 618 yards. Last week’s Laurens County Touchdown Club’s Player of the Week, an award he won for the second time, Bryson James went for 12.1 yards per carry rushing, carrying the rock 16 times.

“The offensive line did a great job blocking - they did a good job blocking as far as the running backs go (and) the wide receivers, being unselfish tonight. Next guy up, Bryce was able to come in and operate the way we need for him to operate. You know we were a little slow in the first half; we picked up the operation in the second half, we didn’t have any of delay of games, things like that.”

Next week’s game at Chester will break a 14-14 series tie in games between the Cyclones and the Red Devils. The last time Chester and Clinton played, 2016, the Cyclones ended Clinton 5-6 season in the playoffs’ first round, as the Red Devils won 3 of their last 4 games to make the playoffs – Clinton won this game in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Chester won in 2012 and bumped Clinton out of the playoffs in 2008 (a 9-4 season for the Red Devils)..


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