Clinton smashes Vicksburg

Published 12:15 am Saturday, August 26, 2017

The new-look Clinton Arrows showed Friday night that they didn’t need Cam Akers to run away from an opponent.
The Arrows only led Vicksburg by seven points at halftime, but scored 28 points in the second half to blow the game open and went on to beat the Gators 35-6 at Memorial Stadium.
Ryan Davis finished with 93 rushing yards and three touchdowns for the Arrows (1-1), who won their first game without Akers, the superstar quarterback who led them to the Class 6A championship last season.
Vicksburg fell to 0-2. It has only scored 12 points in its first two games.
“We have to regroup,” Vicksburg coach Lorenzo Breland said. “We played a good first half. We just have to find a way to finish in the second half. Playing a 6A state champion like Clinton, they are never going to let up. They are never going to let off the gas.”
The Arrows received the ball to start the second half and proceeded to march 80 yards down the field on only seven plays. Davis capped the drive with a touchdown when he punched it in from the 1-yard line to give his team the 14-0 lead with 10:09 left in the third quarter.
Vicksburg and Clinton traded three-and-outs for the next three possessions before Clinton found a spark on a long punt return that set it up with first-and-goal from the 10-yard line.
Davis ran around the right tackle and just broke the plane of the goal line for his third touchdown of the game with 1:58 left in the third.
“They got the momentum with the big play,” Breland said of the change in the second half. “We were struggling on offense and didn’t have any success. They just found the momentum.”
The Gators were plagued all night by inconsistent blocking. They gave up seven sacks, which resulted in them ending the night with only one rushing yard.
“We knew that was going to be one of the spots we had to work on this offseason,” Breland said. “We lost four starters, our starting guard was out this week. We have been a little banged up and we’ve got to fix it.”
The Gators’ longest sustained drive of the night was their second of the game. They started from their own 19-yard line with 5:55 left in the first quarter and converted four first downs on the drive before stalling at the Clinton 43 and punting.
The highlight of the drive came on a third-and-18 after a delay of game penalty and a sack backed them up. Quarterback Joe Johnson found Tyrese Wolfe across the middle for a 26-yard completion and the first down.
“We’ve got to get more pride about ourselves and we’ve got to make sure we are focused at practice and staying after practice trying to get more work,” Johnson said. “We are young and I know that. I only have one returning starter on the O-line. We expected this. We’ve just got to get better.”
Johnson finished the game 13-of-18 passing for 192 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Wilbert with 10:38 left in the game. Johnson found Wilbert all alone racing down the left sideline on the first play of the drive after Clinton had taken the 28-0 lead with a 40-yard touchdown pass.
“I just sprinted out and he busted out wide open,” Johnson said. “He was going on the go route and the safety came down with me when I sprinted out and nobody was down there.”
Despite the lopsided score, the Gator defense had moments where it dominated for the second straight week.

The defense forced three turnovers — two fumbles and an interception — including one at the end of the second quarter when they forced two fumbles on the same play. They recovered the second one, on the first play after Clinton recovered a fumble by Vicksburg wide receiver Jamaal Jefferson.
“That is definitely something we can build on with the defense,” Breland said. “The first half is going to be some great film to watch and evaluate and look at. We’ve just got to figure it out and be a second half team.”

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About Courtland Wells

Courtland Wells is a staff photographer at The Vicksburg Post. He is a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala. and graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s degree in Photojournalism. Following graduation, he started at The Vicksburg Post in the fall of 2016. Courtland has won numerous awards through the Mississippi Associated Press Managing Editors and the Mississippi Press Association. His work has also been featured in the New York Times and Washington Post as well as other national publications. Courtland is a member of the Vicksburg Young Professionals.

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