Arrows fall to Brandon, drop to 1-2 on the season
By Danny C. Davis
The Clinton Arrows dropped to 1-2 on the season after falling to Brandon on September 1. Clinton fell to South Panola 24-23 in the season opener and defeated Vicksburg 35-6 on the road.
In both losses, the Arrows offense or specialty teams turned the ball three times in each game.
“We have got to learn to protect the ball better,” said Arrows head coach Judd Boswell. “We played well enough in both losses to win, but the turnovers were the difference.”
Clinton was held to the lowest point total since a 14-3 loss to Northwest Rankin in 2011.
The Arrows’ only points came from field goals of 31 yards by Tucker Barefoot the first period and a 32-yard field goal with five minutes left in the half, leaving the score at half Brandon, 7, and Clinton, 6.
The Arrows defense continued to stop Brandon in the second half. The Bulldogs did not gain a second half first down until just three minutes remained in the game after a blocked Arrows field goal.
Brandon’s first two drives for touchdowns were for one yard and six yards. The Arrows fumbled at their own one-yard line early in the second period, and Clinton had a snap for a punt snapped over Walker Burchfield’s head in the third, setting up the six-yard drive.
“I think we’re a good football team,” said Boswell. “Our defense is playing well. When we stop turning the ball over, we are going to be a very good team.”
CHS VS. VICKSBURG
The Clinton Arrows improved to 1-1 after an impressive 35-6 win over non-district opponent Vicksburg on August 25. CHS dropped the opening game of the season at home 24-23 to then #6 ranked South Panola.
At Vicksburg, CHS struggled in the first half offensively, with only a 7-0 halftime lead. But the second half was a different story, with the Arrows scoring 28 points.
“We didn’t play well the first half, “said Arrows head coach Judd Boswell. “But our kids figured it out, and we played the final twenty-four minutes good. The atmosphere was low, and sometimes we play down to that level, but I’m proud of the way we finished.”
Arrows junior running back Ryan Davis, making only his second start in the backfield, scored three one-yard touchdowns and 93 rushing yards.
“It felt good carrying the ball and getting a chance to score three times,” said Davis, a reserve linebacker in 2016. “Our offensive line got a good surge in the second half, and I was able to find the holes and score.”
Davis put Clinton ahead 7-0 with 2:49 left in the half on a one-yard run. But Clinton took control on its 80-yard 14-play drive to start the second half that ended with Davis’s one-yard plunge to score with ten minutes left in the third quarter. His third touchdown, also a one-yard plunge with two minutes left in the third, gave Clinton a 21-0 cushion.
For the second week, Clinton rotated two quarterbacks, Walker Burchfied and Hunter Hulsey, and both had success, as they had against South Panola.
“It feels good to get that first win,” said Burchfield. “In the first half, we were trying to get used to the atmosphere and the playing field [natural grass]. At the half, Coach Boswell challenged us to play Arrow football and to go out and run the ball and pound it; and that is what we did.”
“We made some halftime adjustments, and I made better reads in the second half,” said Hulsey. “The line played good, and we were able to just pound it and run the ball on them the second half.”
Hulsey found Terrance Newell wide open for an 80-yard pass-scoring play to make it 28-0 with eleven minutes left. Hulsey completed seven of ten passes for 119 yards. Burchfield was effective running the football rushing for 43 yards. His 20-yard run to the Gator 4 set up Des Barker’s three-yard touchdown run with 5:43 left, to make it 35-6 after the Gators scored on a long pass play with ten minutes left.
But a lot of credit goes to the Arrows defense that kept CHS is the game in the first half, when the offense struggled. Clinton held the Gators to -12 yards rushing after sacking Gator quarterback Joseph Johnson at least six times. VHS had only 177 yards of offense.
Leading the charge for the Arrows were defensive lineman Braxton Bailey and linebacker Delawrence Butler, who both had big stops for sacks or loss of yardage.
“We came out slow in the first half, but we got after their quarterback better in the second half,” said Bailey, a senior.
Butler agreed, “We improved as a defense tonight. We just have to come out and follow our keys and win every down on defense.”
“We challenged the offensive line at half time,” said Arrows offensive coordinator Black Pennock. “And they played better the second half, but the turnovers are still hurting us, and we have to get that under control.”
“Our front four defensive line did a good job,” said Arrows defensive coordinator Devan Cooper. “But we were able to contain their quarterback better the second half.”
CHS VS. SOUTH PANOLA
In the season opener against South Panola, the Arrows showed promise on both sides of the ball, but first game mistakes were the difference. CHS lost three fumbles in the second half and had two botched defensive plays in the first half that went for long touchdowns for the Tigers.
Using both quarterbacks, Walker Burchfield and Hunter Hulsey, the Arrows offense produced 378 yards, including 258 through the air. Burchfield showed promise running the football, scoring two touchdowns on the ground on a one-yard and two-yard run. Hulsey completed 18 of 24 passes for 258 yards, with no interceptions and a touchdown.
Burchfield’s first run put CHS ahead with 8:43 left in the first quarter. Tucker Barefoot connected on the first of three extra points that made it 7-0. South Panola’s quarterback, Patrick Shegog, a two-year starter, was hard for the Arrows defense to contain. His seven-yard TD pass made it 7-6 after the first of four missed extra points for the Tigers with 3:56 left in the first.
CHS went ahead again on Hulsey’s two-yard pass to Haven Barnes with 26 seconds left in the first period to make it 14-6. Shegog found Barry Flowers wide open uncovered three plays later to pull the Tigers within 14-12 early in the first quarter. Barefoot’s 20-yard field goal made it 17-12 with three minutes left in the half, but Shegog picked the Arrows secondary again for a 65-yard pass-scoring play to take the lead 18-17 at the half.
The second half saw the Arrows defense play much better, with no scoring by either team in the third period.
Early in the third period, the Arrows put together a long drive that ended with a fumble at the Tiger’s 4 yard line. Hulsey completed a pass to Tommy Garner, who ran 46 yards to the 4 yard line, where he appeared to be out of bounds when he fumbled into the end zone; but officials ruled a touchback, and South Panola took over at the 20 yard line with ten minutes left. The Arrows defense made a stop, and Burchfield scored from the two with five minutes left to put CHS back on top 23-18 after a failed two point conversation.
After the Arrows defense made another stop, the Arrows fumbled it back with four minutes left at the Arrows’ 23 yard line. Two plays later, Shegog scored the winning touchdown on a three-yard run to make it 24-23. Barefoot attempted a 55-yard field goal as time expired that fell about 15 yards short.
“South Panola caught all the breaks, and we didn’t,” said Arrows head coach Judd Boswell. “Those two busts in the secondary in the first half hurt us, but we played better defensively in the second half. And we have got to protect the ball better. The kids played hard, we just came up short. We’ve got three weeks to get a lot better before we start district play.”