CLINTON — Over the winter, the Clinton High School football team dropped to Class 3A competition for the 2018 season.
On Friday night, however, the River Kings proved they can still hang — and then some — with their former peers, using a dominant second half to surge past Class 4A Burlington 27-14 Friday night at Coan Field.
Clinton outscored Burlington 14-0 in the second half. River Kings coach Jon Wauford said he pressed senior quarterback Kalvin Godette to step up after the intermission.
“I challenged him at halftime to lead his team down the field to score points and win this game,” Wauford said.
The message was well-received. Godette capped a 68-yard drive with a 9-yard scamper for a touchdown to regain the lead on the team’s first possession in the third quarter.
The River Kings never looked back.
Godette finished with two scores (one passing, one rushing) in Clinton’s second consecutive win. Naturally, the dual-threat transfer was quick to deflect the credit to his teammates in the trenches.
“I give it all to the offensive line, they give me time to throw the ball,” Godette said. “The wide receivers and I are making a better connection and the offense is getting better.”
After scoring the first two touchdowns of the contest to open an early 13-0 advantage, Clinton’s offense unraveled after the fast start.
The River Kings’ following three possessions resulted in a pair of turnovers and a blocked punt, which set up a 9-yard rushing touchdown from K.T. Thompson to give the Greyhounds a 14-13 lead at the intermission.
Wauford praised his defense for adapting on the fly after those abrupt changes in possessions, which often gave Burlington a short field.
“It was a great game by our defense,” Wauford said. “Burlington wouldn’t have had 13 points on the board if it wasn’t for our offense… we really gave them momentum at the end of the first half [with the blocked punt].
“It was ugly at times offensively, but it is in the right column.”
Wauford said earlier in the week that his defense would focus on Burlington running back Taven Harris, who entered the game as the state’s leading rusher with 524 yards accrued in just two games.
Aside from a 55-yard touchdown sprint, Harris was held in check, as a combination led by Barry, Matt Swamberger, L.J. Henderson held the senior to less than 200 yards for the first time this season.
Barry, Clinton’s prized junior linebacker, caused confusion on the Burlington sidelines when he lined up as running back for most of the contest. The 6-foot, 200-pounder barreled through Greyhounds for the majority of the night, including a 2-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, which essentially put the game out of reach.
Similar to last week, the River Kings offense started fast, as Godette and company took the opening possession of the game 56 yards downfield, capped by a flawless back-corner of the end zone connection from Godette and Henderson.
Ironically, Henderson said he didn’t run the correct route.
“I didn’t even run the play right but I saw he was pressing and ran a streak,” Henderson said. “He [Godette] is a good enough quarterback to get it up to me… he is a great quarterback.”
Ulysses Patterson accounted for Clinton’s remaining touchdown with a 6-yard run in the second quarter.
Clinton (2-1) will travel to Wahlert next Friday while Burlington (1-2) plays Fort Madison.