Columbia Star

1963        Celebrating 60 Years      2023

Clinton’s fake punt shifts momentum, downs LR


Midway through the fourth quarter, tied ball game. The Lower Richland Diamond Hornets had the ball near midfield facing a fourth down. Head coach Marlin Taylor decided to go for it, but the Diamond Hornets didn’t convert. The Clinton Red Devils then scored on a miracle fake punt. That was part of 14 straight points by the Red Devils as they defeated the Diamond Hornets 48-34 in the second round of the 3A playoffs Friday, November 12.

“Our defense was playing well. I had to take a chance,” Lower Richland head coach Marlin Taylor said. “I feel like we needed to steal a possession. We had them in fourth and forever, and their guy threw a floater. It’s just the way the ball bounces sometimes.”

The Red Devils kicked the scoring off with a 3-yard touchdown run by Bryson James to take a 7-0 lead with 3:21 left in the first quarter.

Lower Richland responded on the next drive. The Diamond Hornets returned the ensuing kickoff to their 41. A fourth down conversion by Lamarion Pearson and a pitch-and-catch from Robert Adams to Mekhi Campfield got the ball into Clinton territory.

On the opening play of the second quarter, Adams ran down the sideline 29 yards for a touchdown. A.J. Gonzales added the extra point to tie the score at 7-7.

Later in the quarter, Jeremy Barney took a handoff and raced 35 yards up the middle for a touchdown. Gonzales connected on the extra point and Lower Richland had a 14-7 lead.

On the next Clinton possession, the Diamond Hornets’ defense recovered a fumble on the Red Devils’ 43. The next play, Adams found Campfield, who got the ball to the Clinton two. Barney capped the drive off with a 1-yard touchdown run. The extra point was no good, and the Diamond Hornets led 20-7.

The Red Devils responded with a 1-yard touchdown run by James to trim the deficit to 20-13 with 3:39 left in the second quarter.

Lower Richland answered with a 55-yard touchdown pass from Adams to Branch. Gonzales added the extra point and Lower Richland led 27-13.

Clinton tacked on a 3-yard run by Jishun Copeland to trim the deficit to 27-20 at halftime.

The Red Devils opened the third quarter with a pair of touchdown runs. First Copeland ran in from nine yards out to tie the score at 27-27 with 9:01 remaining. Then James added a 38-yard touchdown scamper to put the Red Devils ahead 34-27 with 4:47 left in the third.

Lower Richland ended the Clinton run with a 29-yard touchdown pass from Adams to Branch to tie the score at 34-34 with 2:27 left in the third.

The score held up until the midway point in the fourth quarter when Clinton, facing a fourth and long, lined up for a punt. David Wilson rolled left and floated a pass to Justin Copeland who then found his way to the end zone for the go-ahead score.

The Red Devils tacked on one more score with Jishun Copeland’s 49-yard touchdown run.

Lower Richland ends the season with an 8-2 record.

“This is a life lesson,” Taylor said. “Everything I try to teach these kids is about life. It’s bigger than football. It’s about the community. It’s about being a good teammate. This is a life lesson. Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose.”

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