Saturday, September 10, 2011

Clay County 14 - Leeds 7

By Steve Haslam

Repayment. Retribution. Recompense. Retaliation. Revenge.

Such was the bitter taste that filled the mouths of die-hard Clay County fans coming into their match with Leeds on Friday night. Fans that had traveled to Leeds on two occasions last year remembered a particular game in which their team lost by a field goal after going four quarters in the rain with no score. A similar feeling, which irked players, coaches, and fans alike, came from the #1 ranking that had been given to Leeds prior to their arrival in Ashland.

A different team stepped onto the field for Clay County this year. A team that Coach Herron preached would need to have faith if they wanted to defeat the favorites in Friday’s match. There was no rain, no freezing cold temperatures, and no scorching heat. Just a fresh grass field, a blue hanging sky, a team with a lot to prove, and their last chance to do it.

The Panthers would begin the game on the receiving end, with a good return to the 35-yard line. After a few good runs and some offside calls against Leeds, the Panthers would punt the ball away. After a punt back from Leeds, Andrew Robinson would take a short pass for a ten-yard gain. On the next play, running back Lamar Jones would take a toss right and run the ball forty-plus yards for the touchdown. With 4:11 to play in the first quarter, Clay County led the game with a score of 7 – 0. The touchdown invigorated the home side and made an already fervent crowd, hungry for more.

Leeds had their first real chance to score squandered with 2:00 to play in the 4th. The Green Wave attempted to run the ball on 3rd and five, but were dropped behind the line by Travis Smith. The first quarter would end 7-0.

Leeds would begin the 2nd quarter with a huge pass play to #4, Rie Falleta for more than 30 yards. After the pass, Leeds would use a couple short runs from Christopher Edwards to push into the end zone and eventually tie up the game. With 9:53 in the 2nd quarter, the score was tied 7-7.

With 5:00 left in the 2nd quarter on 4th and 2, Leeds decided to run the ball and pushed the chains for a first down. On 3rd and 11 of the next set, Leeds coaching staff opted for a long pass, which was intercepted by a leaping Devin Gaddis.
With 1:03 in the second quarter, and on 4th and 2, Shawncey Simmons ran the ball on a quarterback draw and picked up 35 yards after breaking three tackles. Eventually, Clay County would run out of downs and Leeds would take over to end the 1st half.

Both schools’ bands played beautiful renditions of popular tunes with Leeds focusing on hits from television, and Clay County’s funky renditions of Southern Hits.

Leeds would receive the ball to begin the 2nd half. The Green Wave’s drive would show promise after a 15 yard run from #5, Christopher Edwards. An ensuing play from #22, would include a 15 yard pass completion, taking Leeds to their 35 yard line. Clay County’s defense would then hold the Green Wave to no yards for the next two plays. After a brief time-out for the Leeds’ coaching staff, the men in green used their field goal team to try and raise the score. The field goal was no good, resulting in a crucial and crowd-pleasing turnover.

On the 1st down of the Panthers’ next series, a pass from Shawncey Simmons to Andrew Robinson would result in a 35-yard gain. Coach Herron and Co. would then use a series of runs from both Lamar Jones and Travis Smith to both pick up first down yardage, and also run the clock. On 2nd and 7, with 5:37 to play in the 3rd, Shawncey Simmons would run the ball 30 yards on a quarterback draw for the touchdown. The PAT would be good, making the score 14 – 7 for Clay County. With a few seconds left after two ensuing drives, Clay County would punt the ball away to begin the 4th quarter.

Prior to the commencement of the 4th quarter, the stadium was brought to heartfelt silence as the announcer and all present in Horn-White stadium paid tribute to the victims of the September 11th attacks. As Taylor Chappell played a beautiful rendition of “Taps,” for a moment, the green and blue were united in the cause of liberty and pride for the service men and women of our country.

The 4th quarter began with a huge defensive play, as Andrew Robinson would make a massive sack behind the line and the Green Wave were forced to begin 2nd down with 20 yards to go for a first down. Leeds would react with confidence though, creating a 20 yard pass play that was complete. On perhaps the biggest defensive play of the game, with inches to go on 4th down, the Panthers made the stop, dropping Leeds behind the line. The onslaught, led by Jaylan Ackles, would provide the players and coaching staff with the fire they needed to finish the game.

On 3rd and 3 on the following series, Travis Smith would stumble to the line but keep his feet and hop through three defenders for a huge gain. The Panthers would bring the ball back down the field but were met with a dangerous 4th and 11 with 5:00 to play in the game. To the excitement of both crowds, Coach Herron decided to go for it. Shawncey Simmons completed a pass to Andrew Robinson for the touchdown, but with a lineman downfield, the Panthers were forced to take it back. The Panthers would then punt the ball to the 13 yard line.

On the next play for Leeds, #22 would make a 25-yard run, building the intensity in the air. Next, the Green Wave would keep the crowd on their heels by completing a 30-yard pass to Dylan Shelton with 4:13 in the 4th. After nearly being sacked on the ensuing play, Leeds’ quarterback completed yet another pass to Shelton for an additional 20 yards. On 1st and 10, Leeds fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Panther defender Andrew Robinson.

The Panthers then opted to run the ball in order to run the clock, but they in turn, fumbled the ball themselves and it is recovered by Leeds. On 3rd and 8, a long Leeds pass, which was headed for the end zone, was intercepted by Anthony Woods and run back half the length of the field. This would cut off any hope for Leeds at making a recovery.

Response. Restitution. Resurrection. Redemption. Reinstatement.

Clay County silenced the critics with a convincing 14-7 win over Leeds bumping their record to 3-0 on the season, and making the statement that their last season will be a force to be reckoned with. With Handley as the only remaining opponent that should challenge the Panthers this year, the Clay County Panthers are convinced they have returned to their tradition of winning and state football domination.

As they carry a small town on their shoulders, jumping at every chance to prove that traditions never die, the Clay County Panthers plan to paint the state blue; and build off the message of faith in themselves and in each other.

The Panthers leave Ashland next week to play Handley for their first away game of the season.


Good Job! This story makes me feel like I was there! Keep it up!!

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