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Arrows hand Vikings first region loss

(10/25/03)Clinton In yet another classic between two archrivals, Clinton and Warren Central matched each other’s hard-nosed toughness, but in the end the Arrows (4-5, 3-2 Region 2-5A) escaped with a 14-7 win.

“I’m happy for our players because we’ve been close a lot of times this year, and they deserve to win a close ballgame,” Clinton coach Pete Hurt said. “It’s been a touchdown difference in a lot of games for us.”

Clinton piled up 207 rushing yards on 47 carries against the highly-touted Viking defense. The Arrows also managed to hold back Warren Central’s offense despite three crucial turnovers.

“It hurts, it just hurts,” WC safety Chico Hunter said. “We just couldn’t step it up and play. They wanted it more than we did.”

Warren Central (6-3, 4-1) had a chance to tie late in the fourth quarter.

Starting at their own 20-yard line with 2:28 remaining, the Vikings drove 61 yards in seven plays to set up the potential game-tying touchdown. With 38 seconds left and a first-and-10 inside the Clinton 20, Warren Central’s pass attempts fell incomplete three times, setting up a crucial fourth down.

With 12 seconds remaining, Christian Hales’ pass was intercepted by Clinton’s Derrick Jenkins and returned 60 yards as time expired.

“We thought we were going to come out and take it to them, but we just didn’t execute,” Hales said. “I hate to lose something like this. We were shooting for the division championship. Now it’s going to make it a little bit harder.”

Following Vicksburg’s 18-7 win over Madison Central, Warren Central falls into a second-place tie with Grenada in the region. The Vikings still control their destiny, however, with their two remaining games against the Gators and Chargers.

“We’ve still got that chance, so we’ll see how we rebound against a fine Grenada team,” WC coach Robert Morgan said.

As often with ball-control, power-running teams like Clinton and Warren Central, the team that scores first controls the pace of the game.

Clinton capitalized on a failed punt fake by Warren Central in the first quarter. The Arrows then drove 66 yards and ended with a 22-yard touchdown by fullback Lee Dyson for a 7-0 lead.

The Vikings’ defense forced a pair of fumbles and an interception in the first half, but the offense could never capitalize.

The Arrows continued to pound the ball on the ground and milk the clock, with a 14-play, 68-yard drive that lasted 7 minutes in the third quarter.

Dyson again took advantage of the Vikings’ attention on tailback Paul Cavett, who finished with 129 rushing yards, to slip in from five yards out to give Clinton a 14-0 lead.

“We haven’t played a tough team like that in a few weeks,” Morgan said. “They’ll just come at you and just come at you and just come at you.”

Warren Central finally scored early in the fourth quarter when Hales’ 39-yard pass to Amos Chase set up Larry Warner’s 1-yard touchdown run.

Warner rushed for 107 yards on 17 carries, but the Vikings’ offense couldn’t reach the endzone a second time.

“I knew all week in my heart they were going to try to run it right at us, keep the ball away from us and play good defense,” Morgan said. “We waited too late to get our offense going and had to fight for our lives at the end, and that’s not the way you want to do it.”