Eleven years is a long time. Those years vanished in 48 minutes Friday night at Clover Memorial Stadium.
The Blue Eagles jumped out early in their first-round playoff contest, then held visiting Boiling Springs at bay to claim a 49-14 victory. The win represented the first postseason victory for the Blue Eagles since a 49-32 decision over Mauldin in the first round of the 2008 playoffs.
Now, Clover gets to again face the Mavericks.
“Wow,” exclaimed a somewhat incredulous Clover coach Brian Lane when told of his team’s first playoff victory since 2008. “We’re just working. I’ve got really good coaches that have been working really hard all year, our players have been working hard all year, the community has been supporting us. We’re just going to keep on trying to have a good postseason.”
Clover (11-0) turned in a quick opening drive, traversing 71 yards in three plays. Gabe Carroll connected with Zacch Davis for a 52-yard strike to cap the drive and put the Blue Eagles ahead, 7-0.
The Blue Eagles took their next two drives to the end zone, with a 35-yard BJ Tims scamper extending the lead to 14-0 and a 49-yard Jaylin Lane touchdown snag making the score 21-0.
“Gabe Carroll is a player. He is a ball player,” Lane said. “We’re just blessed that he’s on our team. He’s just magical out there on the field. We’re just thankful for that.”
Boiling Springs (4-7) answered as the first quarter neared its end, going 80 yards on five plays. Kentavious Epps provided the points, dashing 30 yards to the paint and slicing the Clover advantage to 21-7.
The sides settled in a bit more in the second quarter, with the lone score coming on a 13-yard throw on the run from Carroll to Zion Robbins just in front of the back line of the end zone to make the score 28-7. Clover’s Chance Mackey thwarted Boiling Springs’ final opening-half drive by intercepting a deep throw.
Davis paid his second visit to the end zone on the Blue Eagles’ opening third-quarter possession on a 42-yard inside screen to extend Clover’s lead to 35-7. Jalen Dodd then connected with Carlos Carson on a 23-yard strike down the left sideline just after the fourth quarter began, drawing Boiling Springs to within three scores at 35-14.
Clover then put away the game on its ensuing possession. Tims rumbled in from six yards for his second score of the evening, bringing to a close a 58-yard touchdown drive and putting the Blue Eagles ahead, 42-14. Patrick Mull then forced and recovered a Boiling Springs fumble on the Bulldogs’ first play of the next drive, setting up the Blue Eagles at the Bulldog nine-yard line. Clover closed the scoring on that drive, with Cory Adams connecting with David Hall on a 13-yard shovel pass.
“Sometimes, you’ve got thunder and lightning. I’ve just got thunder and thunder,” explained Lane of his running back tandem of Tims and Hall. “Those guys right there, they play hard, and they do a good job of playing off each other. They compete with each other, and they want each other to do well. As long as one of them is having a good night, we’re having a good night.”
Carroll connected on 20-of-27 throws for 431 yards for the Blue Eagles, throwing for three more touchdowns. Davis hauled in four passes for 137 yards and two scores, with Lane grabbing five for 128 and a touchdown. Tims contributed two touchdowns of his own, carrying 11 times for 105 yards.
The Blue Eagles held Boiling Springs’ dynamic offense under 300 total yards, doing a stellar job of containing the run.
“We were worried about that all week,” Lane said. “Our guys hunkered down, played hard, and contained them.”
Clover advances to the second round of the 2019 SCHSL 5A playoffs, and will host Mauldin next Friday night. That game is slated for a 7:30 kick