Friday, August 26, 2011

Clay County 40 - Randolph County 14

By Steve Haslam

Clay County fans packed Horn-White stadium on Friday night to watch their Panthers take on the Tigers of Randolph County. Coach Herron and company entered the stadium with a lot to prove at the commencement of their last season as Clay County Panthers. A bold statement was made on the first play following kick off, when Jamari Staples took a short pass and ran 80 yards for a touchdown. The Panthers then missed the PAT, a trend that haunted the team last year. Quarterback Ty Sparks, for the Tigers, tried to respond with a series of short plays, but his offense fell short and the Tigers had to punt with 8:05 to play in the first.

After a short punt return on their subsequent possession, Ty Sparks connected with #27 for a 50 yard touchdown pass. Making the extra point, Coach Randy Sparks’ team went up by one with 4:23 in the first.

The Panthers were given a wake-up call and they took it, producing an 80-yard run by Lamar Jones on the first play of the next series. After taking the ball in for the touchdown, the referees riled up the home crowd by giving Jones an excessive celebration penalty. The Panthers responded to the call by going for the 2-point conversion. Shawncey Simmons completed a short pass to Jamari Staples for the conversion and the Panthers led 14-7 with 3:33 in the 1st.

The Tiger offense continued to struggle as the Panther defense made several plays behind the line. One stop included a massive sack by DeAndre Wills. On 3rd down of one series, Shawncey Simmons intercepted a pass by Sparks and made a short run back for a touchdown. The Panthers led 21-7, with 2:00 before the half.

The Randolph County Marching band played a rendition of “We Will Rock You,” in a half-time attempt to boost the spirits of the visiting crowd. Mr. Russel Hathcock, Director of The Clay County High School’s Marching Band, answered by marching his group on to the field and by playing a plethora of Southern rock renditions. The CCHS presentation appropriately ended with a symphonic version of “Freebird,” including a guitar solo by student Jesse Patterson.

After fans had a chance to grab some dogs, funnel cakes, or cold drinks to battle the heat, the Tigers received the ball and began pushing up the field. Number 37, Nelson, for Randolph County moved the stakes with multiple run plays that put the Panthers on their heels. But with 6:53 in the 3rd, Jamari Staples made another Panther interception and ran it back for a touchdown.

The panthers would score again off a short touchdown pass to Andrew Robinson in the 4th to make it 40-7 with 9 minutes to play in the 4th. Randolph County would make another touchdown with 4:00 to play but by then, the game was all over. Clay County began their last season with a crushing win and will hope to continue their streak next week against Beulah.

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