Vicksburg falls short at Clinton

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Clinton running back Maurice Woods powers through a host of Gators during the Arrows’ 13-7 win over Vicksburg. (Meredith SpencerThe Vicksburg Post)

[10/2/04]CLINTON Maurice Woods had never played offense for Clinton High, but injuries forced coach Pete Hurt to make some changes. He asked his star linebacker if he wouldn’t mind pulling a little double duty and Woods complied.

The result was a 141-yard performance with a game-sealing touchdown as Clinton edged Vicksburg 13-7 on Friday. Woods also chipped in on defense with a sack and on special teams with a blocked field goal.

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“I’ve never done that before except in practice,” Woods said of playing on offense. “I was a little nervous when I got the ball the first time, but I got that first hit and thought, I’m going to like this.'”

Woods had 60 yards on eight carries, including a 2-yard touchdown, in Clinton’s 11-play 71-yard drive that put the Arrows ahead 13-7 and milked 5:36 off the clock to start the second half.

“Coming back in the second half, we wanted to get about a 10- or 11-play drive to eat up some clock because they were holding the ball a long time,” Clinton coach Pete Hurt said. “We did and got the touchdown, I’m just glad the extra point didn’t come back to haunt us.”

The drive proved to be the difference maker as Clinton’s defense stopped Vicksburg twice inside the 20 in the second half.

“Every good football team is going to make one good drive,” VHS coach Alonzo Stevens said. “They made one hard drive and that was at the beginning of the third quarter.”

The win puts Clinton (2-4, 1-1 Region 2-5A) right back in the playoff mix, while it sets Vicksburg (2-4, 0-2) on a tough path to make the postseason.

“Both teams were in a situation where we needed to win, and we were fortunate enough to make one more play than they did,” Hurt said.

The loss overshadowed a breakout performance by Vicksburg quarterback Eugene Morgan, who ran for 100 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries, and was 17-of-30 for 203 passing yards.

All year the defense has held strong while offensive mistakes have cost Vicksburg several wins. On Friday, the offense moved the ball down the field and committed only five minor penalties for 25 yards. Vicksburg outgained Clinton 333-238 in total yardage and had only one turnover an interception during a last-ditch comeback attempt but still lost.

“It’s the same old story. I hate to sound like a broken record,” Stevens said. “Tonight we played a tremendous team effort, and I’m pleased with the effort. I just don’t have many words. They work too hard, they try too hard. They deserve better than this. This is the hand we got dealt, and we’re going to play it out.”

Failure to convert inside the 20-yard line doomed the Gators. Vicksburg entered the red zone five times and came away with only seven points. The Gators had two field goals blocked and turned the ball over on downs twice.

Vicksburg opened the game with a strong drive down to the Clinton 22, but Cameron Curtis’ field goal was blocked by Woods.

Late in the first quarter, Vicksburg’s Willis McGowan forced a fumble on Cornelius Cavett after a reception, and Marcus Harris picked up the ball for the Gators to give them good field position at the Clinton 44. Morgan found Shannon Tillman for a leaping one-handed grab for 31 yards, and that set up Morgan’s 5-yard scramble to give Vicksburg a 7-0 lead.

Clinton answered right back. Woods pounded a 42-yard run that led to a 26-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Boone to Blair Fridge to tie the game at 7.

Vicksburg then drove to the 19 right before the half and Curtis’ field goal was blocked again.

After Clinton’s opening drive to take a 13-7 advantage, Morgan marched the Gators to the Arrows’ 13 but they couldn’t punch it in, resulting in a turnover on downs.

On Vicksburg’s next possession in the fourth quarter, Morgan again led the Gators down to the 12 before he was sacked by Keith Spann on fourth down with 3:15 remaining.

“Anytime you’re in the red zone, you’ve got to come away with something,” Stevens said. “We’ve just got to fix it where we can get the ball over the goalposts or in the end zone one way or another.”

Clinton ran the clock down to 1:09 before punting and Vicksburg began its final drive with 50 seconds left. Morgan completed three straight passes to move the Gators from their own 12 to the 49, but a deep pass down the sideline was intercepted by Fridge with two seconds left in the game.