Clinton captured its second straight Region 4-3A championship Friday night with a 14-6 victory over No. 8-ranked Chester at Wilder Stadium.
The 14 points scored by the Red Devils was the fewest scored this season, but the Clinton defense was up to the challenge, forcing the five turnovers on downs and intercepting Cylones quarterback Trooper Floyd three times.
“These guys kept pushing and showed a lot of grit and determination and a lot of resolve,” said Clinton head coach Corey Fountain. “Our defensive coaches had our guys prepared for tonight and ready for everything (Chester) could throw our way. Sometimes we bent a little bit, but our defense would step up and make a big play and get a stop or a turnover.”
After Chester (8-2 overall, 3-1 Region 4-3A) turned the ball over on downs at the Clinton 24-yard line, the Red Devils went 76 yards in seven plays on a drive highlighted by rare explosive plays on the night.
Clinton quarterback Tushawan Richardson connected with Kadon Crawford for a 34-yard gain to the Chester 44, and found Zay Johnson for a 42-yard catch and run that handed the Red Devils a 7-0 lead with 3:01 left in the first quarter.
Johnson finished with three catches for 57 yards, while Richardson completed 5 of 9 passes for 103 yards and two interceptions.
Both teams were plagued by penalties throughout the game, combining for 29 flags for 213 yards – Chester 13-111 and Clinton 16-102.
The Red Devils (7-2, 4-0) made their 7-0 lead stand up until a blocked punt in the fourth quarter set up Clinton’s second score.
Tray Cook blocked a Floyd punt that was scooped up by Johnson and returned 12 yards to the Chester 28.
Richardson scrambled for 25 yards up the middle, setting up a 1-yard touchdown run by Crawford that put the Red Devils up 14-0 with 7:38 left in the game.
But the Cyclones struck back quickly. Floyd connected with Elijah Coleman on a screen pass that Coleman took 80 yards for a touchdown. A 2-point conversion attempt failed, leaving the score at 14-6 with 7:14 to play.
Clinton drove to the Chester 18 on the Red Devils’ next possession, but an illegal procedure penalty stopped a 35-yard field-goal attempt, and Chester ended up taking over on downs with 1:53 to play.
The Cyclones, who out-gained Clinton 334-198 in total yards, made it to midfield on their ensuing drive, but Johnson ended the threat with the Red Devils’ third interception of the game with just 14 seconds remaining.
Clinton will finish the regular season at Emerald next Friday, but are guaranteed at least two home playoff games as the Region 4-3A champion.