JIM TUMLINSON FIELD - The Clinton Yellowjackets (10-0) earned the outright 3A-1 Conference championship with a mercy-rule win over the visiting Mountain View Yellowjackets Friday night. The win clinched the first undefeated regular season since 2005 for Clinton. It was a costly victory, however, as leading rusher John Riley Hinchey was lost for the remainder of the season with a collarbone injury sustained in the first half.
Mountain View received the opening kickoff and picked up a single first down before a holding penalty put the offense in a big hole. Clinton’s defense forced a punt, which was downed at the CHS 12 yard line.
Sky Davidson broke off a 41 yard run on the first play from scrimmage, but the run was wiped out by a block in the back penalty down the field. Despite the penalty, Quarterback Weston Amos engineered a 13 play drive that ended in a spectacular touchdown grab by Senior Nate Lonnon. Matt Gonzales, who was perfect on extra point attempts on the night, made the score 7-0.
On Mountain View’s next possession, an illegal block in the back penalty put the Yellowjackets in another hole. This time, Ethen Drake jumped in front of Canyon Vickers and picked off Mountain View quarterback Gunner Willis at the MVHS 35 yard line. Drake returned it seven yards before being tackled. Four plays later, John Riley Hinchey rumbled into the end zone from 14 yards out to give Clinton the lead at 14-0. Hinchey, who was injured prior to the play, would not return and is ruled out for the playoffs.
Following a Mountain View punt, Clinton was unable to get anything going offensively. A botched snapped on the punt set Mountain View up with excellent field position at the Clinton 40 yard line. After giving up a first down, the Clinton defense stiffened and forced an incompletion on fourth down at the 26 yard line. Two plays later, Ethen Drake took the handoff on a counter and sprinted 67 yards to the Mountain View 7 yard line. Fullback Caleb Bowman finished the drive off with a 7 yard touchdown run to push the lead to 21-0.
Mountain View, failing to get anything going offensively, pinned Clinton back at the 3 yard line following a penalty and a sack. Austin Drake’s punt was partially blocked and rolled out of bounds at the 32 yard line. With 2 seconds remaining in the half, Willis rolled left, raced up the sideline, and cut back to the middle of the field to score a touchdown as time expired. The conversion attempt was no good, making the halftime score 21-6.
Clinton put the game on ice with a dominant start to the second half. Caleb Bowman rushed for gains of 25 and 13 yards, the second of which capped off a 4 play, 48 yard drive to make the score 28-6. After forcing a three and out, Clinton struck quickly again with a 2 play touchdown drive. Jonathan Carter scored a rushing touchdown from 53 yards out to push the score to 35-6.
Mountain View drove to the Clinton 38 yard line, but the Yellowjacket defense held on fourth down to give the offense the ball back with 2:12 to go in the third quarter. Early in the fourth quarter, Bowman got the hat trick with another touchdown run, this time from 6 yards out to finish off a 9 play, 68 yard drive to make the score 42-6.
With a rolling clock and subs on defense, Mountain View was able to score two touchdowns in the final 10 minutes. The first one was a quarterback keeper by Gunner Willis to make the score 42-14. The final score came on a touchdown run by Garrett Horn to make the final margin 42-22.
Ethen Drake led the balanced rushing attack with 82 yards rushing on two carries. Sky Davidson added 73 yards on 7 carries. Bowman finished with 57 yards on seven carries to go along with his three touchdown runs.
Weston Amos finished the night having completed 3 of 5 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown. Keaton Gresham, Nate Lonnon, and Charlie Sowell all caught passes in the contest.
Caleb Bowman led the defense with 8 stops, while Sky Davidson made 6 stops.
The Yellowjackets will open the state football playoffs with a home game against the Fouke Panthers, the 5th seed from the powerful 3A-6. Kickoff is set for 7 pm. The game can be heard on KHPQ 92.1 with Jeff Hall and Mike Hawley making the call.
Game Notes: Captains for the game were seniors Nate Lonnon, Dylan Hayford, Clint Bagley, and Charlie Sowell…Ethen Drake’s interception was his fifth of the season, which ties him for the team lead with Charlie Sowell… The Yellowjacket defense finished the season with 29 takeaways (18 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries)… The Yellowjacket defense finished the season giving up an average of 10.6 points per game, and only 4.1 yards per play… Clinton’s offense rolled up 2831 rushing yards this season, with seven backs (Hinchey, Davidson, Ethen Drake, Amos, Bowman and Carter) picking gaining 100 yards.