FLORENCE -- Clover had no opening-night jitters.
The defending Region 3-AAAA champion Blue Eagles dominated their first game Thursday, struggling early but dominating defensively. Clover found the groove of its beloved wing-T offense and cruised to a 33-12 win at Wilson.
Clover (1-0) jumped ahead of the Tigers early, using a little trickery to extend drives on fourth downs. Quarterback Matt Endicott barked a hard cadence on fourth down and short, forcing a Tiger defensive lineman to jump offside.
The ploy worked twice, the latter leading to Steven Sanders' 8-yard scoring run late in the second period.
Never miss a local story.
Sanders' run put the Blue Eagles in excellent shape to put the game away early, but Wilson took advantage of a mistake in Clover's kickoff coverage, resulting in a 97-yard touchdown.
The return cut the Blue Eagles' lead to one possession entering intermission, but Clover came out and overwhelmed the Tigers' defense in the third period, salting the game with two touchdown runs.
Hand in hand with compete control on offense, Clover's stellar defensive unit swarmed over the Tigers.
The Blue Eagles forced Wilson mostly to drives of five or less plays, and with Clover's offense munching time off the clock with double digit-play drives, the Tigers never had a chance.
Until a meaningless long touchdown run against the Clover second-stringers with fewer than two minutes remaining in the game, Wilson accumulated just two first downs and a measly 19 offensive yards.
"Defensively, we played an outstanding game," Clover coach Jet Turner said. "I am glad that some of our younger teams got in the game, but the long run at the end skewed the statistics some. Other than the long run and the mix-up on the kickoff, I am very proud of our effort."
Prep fans, what do you think?
It's time to express your opinion. Go to The Herald's home page at heraldonline.com and click on the "Prep Football 2007" box at the top of the page to share your views on your favorite teams, players and coaches. Forums are broken down by school.