Clements led Danville for most of Thursday night's Class 3A, Region 8 contest, but the Colts had to sweat out a last-second field goal attempt before they could clinch a 28-25 victory.
Clements led 28-25 with the clock running down in the fourth quarter. The Colts had a chance to put the game away on their final offensive possession, but a lost fumble in the red zone with 4:18 left to play gave Danville a chance for a last-minute comeback.
The Hawks faced 4th and 6 near midfield but managed to earn the first down with 1:30 to go. Danville chewed up yardage and clock before making it to the Colts' 16-yard line with seven seconds remaining. A pass in the corner of the end zone bounced off the hands of a Hawks' receiver on third down, but a single second remained on the clock.
Danville trotted the field goal unit out onto the field in a bid to tie the game and force overtime. The snap and hold were good, but as soon as the ball left the kicker's foot it was clear from the Colts' sideline it was destined to sail wide left.
Clements players and coaches rushed onto the field to celebrate as the ball fell back to earth after the missed attempt, marking a wild finish to a contest that is part of an even wilder 2020 season.
“It was too wild,” said Clements head coach Michael Parker. “I don't like those games.”
The win puts the Colts at 2-3 in the region and 2-6 overall with a chance to earn the No. 4 spot and a postseason bid.
“With our region right now, I knew we would control our own destiny if we could win tonight,” Parker said. “We are not a bad football team, we have just struggled with injuries and COVID-19 all year. I think tonight was the first time we all played together as a team.”
Clements put the first points of the contest on the board in the opening quarter on a fumble recovery for a touchdown by Brady Moore, but a touchdown by Danville would leave the game even at the end of the period.
The Colts regained the lead on the first play of the second quarter when Moore punched in the ball on a 16-yard touchdown run. The point after by Alex Kraus sailed through the uprights, giving Clements a 14-7 advantage.
The Hawks scored on a short touchdown pass a few minutes later but missed the PAT, leaving the Colts up 14-13. A Danville defender picked off Clements at the Hawks' 34-yard line, and Danville turned that into points with a 21-yard touchdown pass. The Colts managed to block the point after attempt, but Danville still went ahead 19-14 with 2:13 remaining before halftime.
Clements managed to go back on top before the break when quarterback Jaden Gilbert connected with Hunter Hall for a long touchdown pass out of a trick formation. The PAT made it 21-19 Colts with 27.6 seconds left in the first half, and that score would remain until the final period after a scoreless third quarter.
Just before the end of the third, the Clements defense forced a turnover on downs at the Colts' own 41-yard line on a stop that would end up being a deciding factor in the contest.
Shortly after Clements regained possession, Deontae Crenshaw broke multiple tackle attempts on a long touchdown run that gave the Colts a two possession lead at 28-19 with 11:28 left to play.
“The turnover on downs was huge,” Parker said. “We were struggling to stop them. I don't know if they ever punted tonight. It was just back and forth. Finally we got that stop, and it allowed us to go up (two scores), and that was huge.”
Danville capped its next drive with a goal line plunge to narrow the gap to 28-25 with 8:55 remaining after failing to find the end zone on the conversion attempt.
The Colts' final drive of the night ended in the aforementioned fumble, but the Clements defense held on to earn the region victory.
Now that Clements once again holds its own destiny in its hands, the final hurdle in a bid to reach the playoffs is a road game against county foe Elkmont.
The Red Devils are 0-8 overall and had an open date this week ahead of hosting Clements Oct. 23.
“Elkmont throws the ball around,” Parker said. “Our secondary has to play well. We have to put some pressure on the quarterback, and they have to stop us. I look forward to it.”