As so often happens, one mistake made a huge difference on Friday night.
That led to another "as so often happens" - the Clover Blue Eagles wrapped up a spot in the state playoffs.
The win-and-you're-in 31-6 victory against Lancaster brought Clover's overall record to 9-2, and their Class AAAA Region III mark to 3-2.
There was a possibility the Blue Eagles could have made the playoffs with a loss, based on a couple of factors. The surest path, though, was with a victory.
They're back in the playoffs, but as for next week's game, "I have no idea," coach Jet Turner said. "We're on the bubble of Division I and II. I'll find out in the morning."
For Lancaster coach Bennie McMurray, the aforementioned costly mistake was "déjà vu all over again... The last couple weeks, that's all it's been."
Clover had already built a two-score lead when, with 1:05 left before halftime, Lancaster sophomore quarterback Kaderrious Jackson put the ball on the ground.
Clover sophomore Chad Hill didn't cause the fumble, and he wasn't within five yards when the ball first hit the ground, but he was the first one on the scene, streaking in to corral the football on the Lancaster 16-yard line.
Two plays later, Brown capped his spectacular first half with an 8-yard run that included second- and third-effort bursts.
"It's still a ballgame before that," Turner said. "It's a lot easier to come back from 17-6 than 24-6. That was huge."
It was Brown's first score of the game, but he left his signature on each of the Blue Eagles' first two touchdown drives.
"He really made some big plays in the passing game," Turner said.
Brown kept a 15-play, 88-yard drive alive with an outstanding grab of a third-and-8 pass that was a little high and a little behind him. Quarterback Aaron Miller finished that drive with a two-yard touchdown plunge to put Clover up 10-0.
On the Blue Eagles' second touchdown, Brown again came up with a huge third-and-8 catch. This one was a strike from Miller.
After hauling it in past first-down distance, Brown made a quick cut to his right, then shifted left and sprinted across the field for a 61-yard gain that chewed up even more yards when a facemask penalty was tacked on.
"I felt like everybody was behind me to the right, and once I broke that first tackle, I saw nothing but open field to the left," Brown said with a smile. "So I took advantage of that and ran with it."
Two plays later, Miller pushed through an opening created by the right side of his offensive line for a five-yard score, putting Clover ahead 17-6.
Brown's touchdown put the Blue Eagles up 24-6 and their defense took care of the rest in the final two quarters.
It helped that Clover's ball-hogging offense had the ball for the first 10 minutes of the fourth quarter, too.
"They were ready," Turner said of his Blue Eagles. "They knew what was at stake. There wasn't a lot of talking. The guys came out ready to play."
Read more: http://www.heraldonline.com/2010/11/06/2592447/clover-clinches-playoff-position.html#ixzz14WILVKfi