By John Turner
CLOVER – The Fort Mill Yellow Jackets traveled across York County tonight to battle an old nemesis in the Clover Blue Eagles at a rainy Memorial Stadium in a crucial Region 3-5A showdown.
Fort Mill leads the all-time series 28-25-1, however Clover has won the last three and Friday was no different as they walked away with a 44-7 win.
On paper, this matchup looked to be pretty even and for most of the first quarter it was just that. Clover then turned an interception into a touchdown on a double pass from quarterback Joe Boyd to Dion Brown, who then threw a 47-yard rainbow to a wide-open Darius Bowser to give the Blue Eagles a 7-0 lead.
After another Fort Mill three and out, Clover had an 80-yard touchdown pass called back due to a penalty. Undeterred, Clover continued to move the ball and tack on another score on an 18-yard scamper from sophomore tailback Demarco Evans.
The game got really interesting when a Clover special teams mistake gave Fort Mill the ball at the Blue Eagles 30-yard line. After a 14-yard pass to tight end Evan Sasser, tailback Michael Threatt punched it in from 1 yard out to make the score 14-7. The Yellow Jackets defense forced a Blue Eagles punt setting up the Fort Mill offense at their own 30-yard line. However, that’s when the navy-blue wave of Clover began to rain on Fort Mill’s parade. Zaske Her picked off a Kyle Neibch throw taking it 35 yards to the house giving Clover a 21-7 lead with 1:32 left in the second quarter. On the next play from scrimmage for Fort Mill, Clover’s Zach Jordan stripped Neibch of the ball in the end zone for another Blue Eagles touchdown. In the blink of an eye, it was 28-7 Clover.
Clover received the second half kickoff and wasted no time putting more points on the board as Boyd hit Chance Sanders on a screen pass which Sanders took 50 yards for the touchdown only 32 seconds into the second half.
It took almost an hour to play the third quarter due to penalties and injuries. For the night, Clover committed 23 penalties for more than 200 yards with Fort Mill committing eight. To put it another way, Clover at one point had as many penalty yards as they did total offense which was three times more than what the Fort Mill offense had total.
To say this game was ugly is being generous. Tempers began to flare as the second half wore on with several personal fouls called and a Fort Mill player getting ejected. Clover head coach Brian Lane put the backups in but that didn’t stop Clover from scoring. Quarterback River Joye connected with Hunter Jaime on a 19-yard screen pass making the score 42-7 with 7:22 left in the game. Clover would add a safety with just under a minute to play.
Clover moves to 2-3 overall but more importantly 1-0 in region play. Fort Mill fell to 1-5 overall and 0-2 in region play. The Yellow Jackets step out of region play next Friday night as the Jackets travel to the White Rose city of York to battle the Cougars. If Fort Mill wants to make the playoffs, they will probably have to win at least one of their last two region games which are against Gaffney and Boiling Springs.