Clinton’s injury-plagued Red Devils fell to South Aiken’s Homecoming inspired Thoroughbreds, 41-30, in Friday night action.
It was the Class 4A Thoroughbreds’ first win of the season, and dropped Class 3A Clinton to 4-2 on the “first half” of the 2023 season; the “second half” starts next Friday as Clinton plays host to region foe Union County, a 57-14 loser to Chapman.
Clinton moved up players from its undefeated JV team to fill some gaps caused by injuries, and the newcomers with the experienced Red Devils players still had a shot at the game midway through the 4th quarter as a Tushawan Richardson to Austin Boyd TD pass cut the South Aiken lead to 34-30. The Thoroughbreds, which ran for 336 yards against Clinton’s defense, put the game away with a scoring run with 2:24 left to play.
Two Richardson scrambles gave Clinton hope, but 4 incompletions ended Clinton’s final drive with 1:32 left to play.
Clinton Football Head Coach Corey Fountain said of his team, “I thought they showed a lot of grit. They played til the final whistle. They didn’t point fingers. They just kept playing and kept plugging; we just couldn’t get the job done tonight, and I take the blame for that. I think there were a lot of new faces out there and they gave it their best effort, and we still had opportunities to win this football game. They gave us a shot and they’re getting experience and that’s going to help us down the road.”
Looking ahead to Union County, Fountain said, “We’ll watch film, make corrections, get everybody coached up and get them ready to play the Union Jackets.”
Clinton will celebrate its 2023 State Championship Baseball Team at halftime of the next contest at Wilder Stadium.
Clinton amassed 437 yards of total offense running 46 plays. South Aiken’s 64 plays netted 489 yards.
South Aiken is now a 1-5 team, but their first loss came to Silver Bluff by 3 points and 3 of the next 4 losses were to Class 5A teams. Clinton won this game 54-28 last season, but this is another year of experience for South Aiken’s lightning quick senior quarterback Terrence Smith Jr., and it showed in his running and passing (9 of 11 for 153 yards).
Clinton took a 6-0 lead on Javen Cook’s 9-yard scoring run. Another Clinton TD came off the board on a penalty on a 3rd and goal from the 15. Keegan Fortman then added a 32-yard field goal. DJ Clark added a scoring run to stake Clinton to a 15-14 lead. South Aiken took the lead just before halftime, and Clinton lost a scoring opportunity with 24 seconds before halftime turning the ball over at the South Aiken 1 on a fumble through the corner of the end zone. After a South Aiken touchdown pass, Cook scored for Clinton in the hurry up offense, and the Red Devils added a 2-point conversion. Clinton was offside on the ensuing onside kick (after a South Aiken personal foul), and South Aiken got a break on its next drive as a runner was ruled down by contact before Clinton recovered a fumble.
South Aiken scored on a touchdown pass on the first play of the 4th quarter and then again with 2:24 left in the game, with the Richardson to Boyd TD pass sandwiched in between.
Fountain said to Red Devil Nation, “We need you to be positive with these young men because they played their hearts out tonight.”