If someone had asked Clover coach Chad Smith to script the ideal start to his Blue Eagles’ season, even he may not have been able to envision his team’s first half.
Smith’s club found the end zone on six of its seven offensive possessions in the opening 24 minutes, leading the way to an impressive 48-13 victory Friday night at Clover Memorial Stadium.
“I didn’t believe it until I saw it, I’ll just be honest,” said Smith. “We’ve got a fantastic group of kids. They’ve bought into everything we’ve done.”
The Blue Eagles’ wing-T offense gave the visiting Green Wave fits, as senior Willy Clark found the end zone on carries of four and 34 yards in the opening half. Clark paced five Blue Eagle rushers who found the end zone early, aided by a swarming defense that produced five sacks, a fumble recovery and two interceptions before the break.
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“I can’t say enough about our defense,” stated Smith. “Coach (Steven) Peeler’s done a fantastic job switching us into that 3-4. I think it fits our personnel extremely well, and those kids got after it. It’s a pressure defense. Tonight, we were able to get some really good stuff done against some pretty good athletes.”
Clover (1-0) saw a sixth rusher find the end zone in the third quarter, as Connor Owens finished a 66-yard drive with a five-yard scamper to make the tally 48-0.
“The wing-T is about precision, and when it’s hitting, it looks pretty good,” Smith said.
Ashbrook (0-1) notched two late scores. Quarterback Hayden Welle found receiver Malik Hyatt on a beautiful 18-yard throw to the right corner of the end zone, followed quickly by a five-yard run by British Brooks to cap the night’s scoring.
Clover’s defense set the tone early, forcing a Green Wave fumble on the third play of the game. After recovering the ball on the Ashbrook 21, the Blue Eagles needed just two plays to take an early 6-0 lead. Clark’s first touchdown from four yards away set the early tone, giving Clover a lead it would never relinquish.
The first 10 Green Wave possessions ended in a fumble, interception, punt, turnover on downs or the halftime break. Ashbrook found the end zone on its final two possessions.
Owens carried eight times for 88 yards, leading the Clover rushing attack. Clark added three carries for 49 yards and two scores. The Clover defense tallied eight sacks, recovered a fumble and picked off two passes, narrowly missing two more.
Taquan McConneaughey ran 19 times for 67 yards for the Green Wave, carrying much of the load on the ground. Brooks added six carries for 40 yards and a score.
“Ashbrook is going to be a quality football team, there’s no doubt. They’ve got some athletes,” said Smith. “That’s a quality group of guys, and we were able to control basically the entire game, so I was proud of them (my team).”
Clover 48, Ashbrook 13
C – Willy Clark 4 run (conversion failed) 10:30
C – Garrett Miller 2 run (Nick Sciba kick) 7:33
C – Chandler Huskey 22 run (Sciba kick) :47.1
C – Semaj Lakin 5 run (Sciba kick) 11:47
C – Clark 34 run (Sciba kick) 9:44
C – A.J. Pennington 18 run (Sciba kick) 7:35
C – Connor Owens 5 run (Sciba kick) 1:44
A – Hayden Welle 18 pass to Malik Hyatt (Michael Edwards kick)
A – British Brooks 5 run (kick failed)
RUSHING Ashbrook British Brooks 6-40; Taquan McConneaughey19-67; Hayden Welle 12-3; Michael Edwards 1-(-12); Cameron June 1-(-1). Clover Semaj Lakin 10-38; Willy Clark 3-49; Garrett Miller 2-9; Coonor Owens 8-88; Chandler Huskey 2-19; Chase Griffin 2-11; A.J. Pennington 1-18; Jordan Woodruff 2-6; Luke Trowbridge 2-20; Devon Chisholm 1-11; Adam Sholar 4-17; Joe Stokes 1-5.
PASSING Ashbrook: Welle 6-23-2-79 yards. Clover: Miller 2-3-0-67 yards.
RECEIVING Ashbrook: Malik Hyatt 4-53; McConneaughey 1-15; Brooks 1-11 Clover: DreQuan Star 1-47; Jackson Parrish 1-20
RECORDS Clover 1-0, Ashbrook 0-1.