The Clover Blue Eagles exploded in the second half for 21 points to grab a 41-28 win over the Fort Mill Yellow Jackets to end the regular season for both teams.
With Fort Mill (1-9, 0-4 Region 3-5A) playing for pride and trying to end the season on a high note, there was a slim chance that Clover could make the playoffs on a wild card berth with a win. The Blue Eagles (5-5, 1-3 Region 3-5A) were looking to finish the regular season with a .500 record, while the Jackets were looking to end the season on a good note with a win.
“All year we have been playing hard in tight games,” said Clover head coach Brian Lane. “I challenged our guys to play with fire and emotion.”
Senior quarterback J.T. Marr got the start for Fort Mill in his final game, after missing the entire the season due to a preseason injury. On the first play, Fort Mill went 69 yards on a Sebastian Lach run to get to the one-yard line. Despite the great start, Fort Mill failed to score and turned the ball over on downs.
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Clover made the most of its first drive and took the ball deep into Fort Mill territory, but came away with nothing a missed field goal. Clover was able to take a lot of time on the drive with nearly nine minutes eaten off the clock in the opening quarter.
In the second quarter, Fort Mill took advantage of a Clover mistake when D’Angelo Coit recovered a strip fumble during a Blue Eagles drive and returned the ball 88-yards for the score to put the Jackets up first. Clover struck back on the next drive as quarterback Gabe Carroll scored on a one-yard run after completing a 29-yard pass to Heze Massey to get them down near the end zone.
Clover would take the lead for the first time in the game on their next possession as Carroll connected with Jaylin Lane for an 18-yard score. Fort Mill came back and scored to tie the game on its next drive with a 70-yard touchdown pass from Dylan Helms to Ben Kellam.
Coming out of the locker room for the second half, Clover took the opening kickoff 95-yards to the end zone with Nygle Biggers scoring on a fake reverse to put the Blue Eagles up by two scores.
The Jackets struggled to move the ball offensively in the first half. Fort Mill was able to get just two first downs and didn’t complete a pass until the second quarter, however the pass did result in a touchdown. The Fort Mill offense was one sided as they seemed to only be able to move the ball on the ground. Clover on the other hand had a good mix of running and passing the ball, which allowed them to get the win. In the first half, Clover ran 42 plays, while Fort Mill ran just 17 plays.
“I am proud of our guys effort,” said Fort Mill head coach Rob McNeely. “They kept fighting. The kids played hard.”
Clover was led by Carroll, who passed for 366 yards on 24 for 31 throwing and four touchdowns. He also rushed for a touchdown. Austin Clark caught five passes for 124 yards for Clover and Jaylin Lane caught three touchdown passes for the Blue Eagles in the game. David Hall went over 1,000 yards on the season for Clover in the game as he rushed for 101 yards in the game.
Clover waits to see if it can get a wild card spot in the 5A state playoffs, while Fort Mill’s season ends.
Fort Mill 0;14;0;14;-28
FM - D’Angelo Coit 88 fumble recovery (Ben Rich kick), 10:03
C - Gabe Carroll one run (Austin Clark kick), 8:23
C - Jaylin Lane 18 pass from Carroll (Clark kick), 4:48
FM - Ben Kellam 70 pass from Dylan Helms (Rich kick), 3:07
C - Lane 5 pass from Carroll (kick failed), 1:05
C - Nygle Biggers 95 kickoff return (Clark kick), 11:37
C - Lane 7 pass from Carroll (Clark kick), 6:20
FM - Cam Saunders 36 pass from Helms (Clark kick), 11:14
C - Heze Massey 52 pass from Carroll (Clark kick), 9:57
FM - Kellam 3 pass from Helms (JT Marr kick), 53.5
First downs 25;12
Passing yards 369;179
Fumbles-lost 4-1; 0-0
RUSHING Clover: Gabe Carroll 5-(-18), David Hall 16-101, BJ Tims 7-46, Dominic Campo 2-0. Fort Mill: Dylan Helms 5-7, Sebastian Lach 9-73, Caleb Smith 13-53, Cam Saunders 5-(-2), Ben Kellam 1-(-5).
PASSING Clover: Carroll 24-31-0 366, Campo 1-1-0 3. Fort Mill: Helms 8-18-0 168, Cabe Christopher 1-1-0 11.
RECEIVING Clover: Heze Massey 5-93, Blackmon Huckabee 4-38, Zion Robbins 3-30, Austin Clark 5-124, Hunter O’donegan 1-2, Jaylin Lane 4-38, Hall 2-26. Fort Mill: Kellam 4-101, Smith 1-9, Saunders 1-36, Helms 1-11, Xavier Easterlin 1-(-1), D’Angelo Coit 1-13.
RECORDS Clover 5-5, 1-3 Region 3-5A; Fort Mill 1-9, 0-4 Region 3-5A.