BY CLAY CUNNINGHAM
North Clay Middle School exacted revenge for tough losses last season with two nail biting victories over Edgewood on Saturday.
The Knights seventh-grade squad stayed undefeated by winning an 8-6 slugfest. The only score North Clay put up was on their opening drive, when Tanner Wilson scored on a 26-yard run.
While the offense struggled the remainder of the way, the Knights' defense was dominant throughout. One week after not allowing Brown County a first down, the Knights once again rose to the occasion, forcing two turnovers and getting a crucial goal line stand to end the first half.
The Mustangs made things interesting in the fourth quarter, when Jordan Snyder ran in for a touchdown with one minute remaining. The Knights caught a break however, as Edgewood was flagged for a dead ball personal foul penalty, forcing them to attempt the game tying two-point conversion from the 18. The Mustangs fell short and the Knights ran out the clock for the victory. Coach John Russell said it was one of the most enjoyable games he has watched in his tenure as seventh-grade coach.
"I thought it was a great game between two great seventh-grade teams," Russell said of the game, in which his squad was able to avenge an 8-6 loss to Edgewood last year on a late hail marry pass. "This was as nice a game as we've had all season."
In the official rematch of the before mention hail mary game, the eighth-grade squad earned a gritty, come-from-behind 20-16 win to snap a two-game losing streak.
The Knight fell behind 18-6 at halftime, due to an extraordinary performance by Edgewood's Davant'e Ragland. Ragland scored three first half touchdowns, one on the opening kick off, and two on long receptions of 64 and 62 yards respectively. The Knights score came virtue of a 21-yard run on fourth down by Phillip Lalen.
The Knights' defense was able to step up their level of play in the second half, not allowing any more points and keeping the explosive Ragland under wraps. Yet they still entered the fourth quarter down two scores.
That's when Lalen took over.
The tailback scored two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including the game winner from 35 yards out with 1:36 to go, giving North Clay a 20-16 lead they would not relinquish. The Mustangs were able to drive the ball into Knight territory on their final drive, but this time were not able to pull off the last second heroics of a season ago.
North Clay coach Karl Schiefer said he pushed his team hard in the previous week to try and eradicate any chance of an extended losing streak. Schiefer said all the extra preparation paid off in his team's hard fought victory.
"It's huge," Schiefer said of the victory. "These guys wanted it and we did a lot of extra preparation during the week and it paid off."
The seventh-grade squad improved to 5-0-1 with their win, while the eighth-grade upped their record to 4-2. Both teams will return to action Tuesday with road games at West Vigo. The seventh grade game kicks off at 6:00.