Challenged by an energized underdog, Lancaster dug down just deep enough on Friday night.
The Bruins (6-1, 2-0 Region 3-3A) outlasted winless Clinton 13-12 at Lancaster County Memorial Stadium, but it took them until the last minute of the game to finally put away the Red Devils (0-7, 0-2) to stay undefeated in region play.
“It wasn’t pretty, but you have to win this kind of game sometimes,” Lancaster coach Bobby Collins said. “We did some things right and we’ll build from that.”
Probably the best thing on this difficult night was stopping the visitors in the final five minutes.
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Trying to keep possession and run out the clock, Lancaster failed on a 4th and 1 attempt from its own 43 with 5:05 to play and had to give up the ball. The Red Devils reached the Bruins 24 in the final minute and on 3rd down, went for the end zone on a halfback pass by Michael Mann. But defensive back Dreshun Stewart knocked the ball away from a Clinton receiver and a fourth down pass was also unsuccessful.
“We came up big on defense, especially on that play,” Collins said. “We told the players that they were going to try to pull out the big play. We bent all night, but we didn’t break.”
Kadarius Wright rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries and Farrika Grier scored the Bruins other touchdown on his only carry of the game.
Wright’s touchdown, on a 20-yard run, was the Bruins’ only score of the first half. It answered a Clinton score on the opening drive of the game, a 5-yard run by Shakeam Dowdy at the end of a 68-yard march. Dowdy rushed 31 times for 126 yards.
That made it a 7-6 game and that’s where it stood at halftime. Each team had a touchdown called back in the first half and each team also had a promising drive derailed by a turnover.
Clinton had a 31-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Charlie Craven to tight end Dee Jennings nullified by a penalty in the last minute. Lancaster had a chance to extend its lead on the last play of the half, but Trevor Lathan’s 37-yard field goal attempt fell short.
The third quarter was scoreless, but at the end of it the Bruins started a 91-yard touchdown march, highlighted by a 40-yard pass from quarterback Keendarius Truesdale to Cordarius Tinsley. Grier got the score on a 5-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter, but the PAT try failed for a 13-6 lead.
The Red Devils, who had scored only 47 points all season coming into the game, struck right back, marching 80 yards in 12 plays. Hezekiah Simpson crashed in from one yard out for the touchdown.
Clinton, missing its starting kicker, tried for the two-point conversion, but the Lancaster defense stopped Dowdy short of the goal line.
“Their backs really ran hard,” Collins said. “But our guys made some big plays on defense when we had to. We wanted to try to get them into second and third and longs to take them away from the run. We did that better in the second half.”