There’s nothing like a win to energize a football team.
The Clover Blue Eagles broke into the win column Friday in Blythewood with a 35-28 win against the favored Bengals.
The game-changing play occurred in the third quarter, with the Blue Eagles nursing a 22-14 lead.
With Blythewood facing third-and-goal at Clover’s 9-yard line, Bengals quarterback David Isreal was pressured by the Blue Eagles’ defense into throw an interception.
Blue Eagles junior Elijah Plummer – 6-foot-1, 185 pounds – picked off the errant throw and rambled down the sideline to the Blythewood eight.
Two plays later, Blue Eagles running back Willy Clark scored from six yards out, staking the Clover team to a 28-14 lead with 39 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Blythewood scored on Osei Thomas’ 19-yard run to cut Clover’s lead to 28-22, then again with the clock running down on Daquan Patten’s touchdown reception.
The Blue Eagles cut short the Bengals’ rally on Coby Hamblen’s 19-yard TD run with 2:34 left in the game. Sophomore placekicker Sam Edmunds added the point after.
“Our defense stepped up and made plays we expect them to make,” CHS head coach Chad Smith said.
“Our offense has been very consistent this season, and this continued at Blythewood,” he said.
“We’re not a flashy team, but when we score points, drain the clock and play defense, we win.”
The Blue Eagles were aggressive from the outset, building a 22-0 lead in the first quarter and extending to the second quarter.
Quarterback Noah Lindsay drove Clover 52 yards on nine plays, culminating with junior running back Colton Barnes’ 11-yard scoring run with 1:36 remaining in the first quarter.
Nate Morrison, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound running back, got into the end zone for the two-point conversion.
On Blythewood’s ensuing possession, Bengals punter Jordyn Adams tried to handle a high snap near his own goal and was tackled at the 1-yard line.
Clark plunged into the end zone on first down, pushing the Blue Eagles’ lead to 15-0.
Lindsay scored in the early moments of the second quarter and Edmunds made the point after.
The Blue Eagles won’t play Friday, which Smith says is good timing.
“I think the open date is fantastic,” Smith said of the mid-season break. “The open date is a chance for injuries to heal and gives us the opportunity to focus on areas of the game we wouldn’t have time for in a normal week.”
The region opener against Fort Mill is slated for Oct. 3 at Memorial Stadium.
The Blue Eagles will be riding the momentum of the confidence-building win at Blythewood and are sure to benefit from an extra week of fine-tuning the double-wing scheme and the basic fundamentals of the game on both sides of the ball, Smith said.
Fort Mill has been a surprise team this season, and its success continued with a 21-17 win at West Florence on Sept. 19. Junior quarterback Rogan Wells, who directs a productive offense for the Yellow Jackets, was more than West Florence could handle.
Facing a first-and-10 near midfield with the Yellow Jackets trailing 17-14, Wells rambled through would-be tacklers into the end zone with 10 minutes left in the game. The score provided the margin of victory as the Yellow Jackets held on for the win.