After a tough season in 2013, the Clinton Arrows wanted to make a strong statement Friday in their season opener at Pearl.
That, they did.
The heart-stopping 35-28 upset over eighth-ranked Pearl was the Arrows’ first win on the road over a ranked team since they upset No. 2-ranked Olive Branch 17-13 in the opening round of the 2004 Class 5A playoffs.
They’re ready for their next challenge: Ridgeland, at home Friday. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
Clinton still faces one of the most difficult schedules in Class 6A with top 10 opponents including Brandon, Meridian, Madison Central, and Starkville. “I am so proud of our players and coaching staff,” said Boswell. “They all worked so hard in the off season.
We were conditioned well. This is a great start.”
Clinton set the tone early by scoring on the first play of its first offensive series. Sophomore quarterback Cameron Akers found sophomore running back Darius Maberry all alone behind the Pirate secondary for a 52-yard pass scoring play. Akers and Maberry combined accounted for every Clinton score.
“We had that play planned all alone if we got the right matchup,” said Arrow offensive coordinator Ben Shelton. “They executed the play perfectly.”
The good news for Arrows fans is that Akers and Maberry will be around for almost three more seasons. Akers put CHS up 13-0 on a one-yard sneak with 4 minutes left in the half. Pearl came right back and scored on a 57- yard pass to Jeremy McLaurin. The Pirates took their first lead in the third period on a six-yard run by star running back Jordan Wright to make it 14-13 with 9:16 left in the third.
In previous years, Arrows teams might have folded, but not this Arrow team.
Akers’ three-yard run and a two-point conversion pass from Kylar Johnson to Rashaad Mosley put Clinton ahead for good 21-14. With 1:07 left in the third, Akers put Clinton up 28-14 with 9:23 left on a 5-yard run. The score was set up by a 58-yard burst by Maberry. After Pearl closed it it 28-21, Maberry made another incredible play. Facing third and 5 from the 50-yard line, the sophomore speedster ran his right, found no running room and cut back across the field to his left for a 50-yard touchdown run.
Peyton Arnold’s third extra point made it 35-21 with 1:49 left. Wright scored with 46 seconds left on a 54-yard pass from Carpenter, making the final score 35-28.
Maberry finished the night with 12 carries for 173 yards and 2 receptions for 74 yards. Akers had 31 yards rushing, 126 yards passing and accounted for three touchdowns rushing and one passing.
Much improvement was also shown in the game by the Arrow defense. Nic Chapman and Lemarques Thomas both had 6 solo stops. Roy Douglas, D. J. Henderson, and Rodney Edwards each had 5 stops.
“I think our team proved that they can play with anybody tonight ,” said Arrow defensive coordinator Bobby Bass. “They worked so hard for this.”
Chapman agreed, “We got a lot of pressure on their quarterback and were able to make some big defensive plays.”
“The kids have bought into to what we have been teaching them,” said Boswell. “We have to put this big win behind us and look to Ridgeland. They have averaged 10 wins a year and are a very good football team. We beat a good ranked team. Now, we have to play an unranked very good team and play hard again.”