Tyvis Smith has put up the best rushing numbers in the Mississippi Athletic Conference this season, but Clinton’s Torris Green is emerging as a competitor for the title of top running back in the MAC.
Smith rushed for 336 yards and four touchdowns, providing Davenport Central with all the offense it needed Friday night to beat Clinton 28-25. Green was a large part of the reason the River Kings were in the game right until the end. He gained 271 yards on the ground in by far Clinton’s closest game of the season.
Clinton (0-3) kept Smith bottled up in the first half. He had 68 yards at halftime, but in the second half he gained 268 yards on 28 carries.
“He is definitely one of the quality backs that we’re going to see,” Clinton coach Lee Camp said of Smith. “He does a fine job of following his blockers. His line keeps driving. ... There were times he was just blowing through tackles.”
It seemed that all Central needed in the fourth quarter was Smith. He carried the ball on 17 of their 19 offensive plays and scored two of his four touchdowns in the final quarter.
“When it comes down to it, I’m willing to help my team as long as they need my help,” Smith said. “I was tired, but I just pushed through. Coach has been working on our strength.”
Central (2-1) took a 10-point lead with 8:22 to play on Smith’s second touchdown of the fourth quarter. Clinton went to its passing game to try to move down the field quickly but handed the ball off to Green one more time.
On second down from Clinton’s 46-yard-line, quarterback Will Carr gave the ball to Green. Green ran up the middle and then cut left and ran for a 54-yard touchdown to pull the River Kings to within three points, 28-25.
“We’ve really worked on being more patient getting to the hole,” Camp said of Green. “When he explodes through, he does a real nice job. The other thing is we’re getting people blocking downfield.”
But Smith and the Blue Devils ran out the final 3:59, denying Clinton a final possession.
“It hurts a lot more,” Camp said of the close loss. “You could see it in their eyes. ... But our kids really did some things a lot better. I said before, these are the type of kids who are going to learn and are going to keep improving. We really did some things well, yet we made enough mistakes to let them come out ahead.”
This seemed as good a time as any for the River Kings to pick up their first win.
After getting down 7-0 midway through the first quarter, Clinton marched 80 yards down the field to pull within one point, 7-6. The key to the drive was a 43-yard rush by Green, which set up the touchdown. Two plays later, Carr found Cody Collender on a seam route down the middle of the field for a 26-yard touchdown.
Clinton scored the next points, as well. Ryan Driscoll ended an 11-play, 67-yard drive with an 18-yard touchdown run to put Clinton ahead 12-7 with 2:12 to go before halftime.
“I thought offensively we moved the ball better,” Camp said. “Our o-line was moving good.”
That seemed to swing the momentum in Clinton’s favor, and Central needed to respond.
“Some of my teammates were down,” Smith said of the mood at halftime. “We had to get our spirit back up and try to come out here and play like we know we can play.”
Smith took that upon himself. On the first play of the half, he ran for 5 yards right up the middle. On the next play, he ran right up the middle again. This time it was for a 60-yard touchdown.
“I saw the hole,” Smith said of the touchdown run. “My linemen opened it up and I just took off.”
After a three-and-out by Clinton, Smith and Central drove again. Smith carried the ball twice for 56 yards to get down to Clinton’s 10-yard line. But on the next play, Central handed the ball to Tatlan Anderson, who fumbled. The River Kings recovered at their own 4, one of four Central turnovers.
Clinton gave the Blue Devils a steady diet of Green, who rushed for 81 yards on the drive. Carr capped the 96-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run, giving Clinton the lead again.
But then the fourth quarter started and Smith took control and dashed Clinton’s hopes of an upset in the process.
“We made a few mistakes on both sides of the ball as the second half wore down,” Camp said. “Maybe it was a little bit of fatigue. It was mental mistakes.”
Camp was pleased with his defense holding the Blue Devils to seven points in the first half. Clinton had allowed 96 combined points in its first two games.
“Defensively, especially in the first half, I thought we stepped it up,” he said.
The River Kings were also able to make Central one-dimensional offensively, for the most part. Nick Gowey completed 6 of 19 passes for 58 yards but was intercepted three times. Austin George had two interceptions and Skylar Thomas came down with the third.
“I think our d-backs are really picking it up,” Camp said. “The two Thomases — Skylar and Tyler — have done a great job. They’ve improved through the year, as well as the two safeties — Cody Collender and George. They get a nice complement from the linebackers underneath. They’ve really worked hard at getting into the right positions. It looked like at the beginning they wanted to come out and throw the ball on us. We made them change their plans, which worked pretty well for them, I guess.”
DAVENPORT CENTRAL 28, CLINTON 25
Central 7 0 7 14 — 28
Clinton 6 6 6 7 — 25
DC — Tyvis Smith 2 run (Joey Storto kick), 5:26
C — Cody Collender 26 pass from Will Carr (kick failed), 3:13
C — Ryan Driscoll 18 run (pass failed), 2:12
DC — Smith 60 run (Storto kick), 11:07
C — Carr 3 run (pass failed), 4:03
DC — Smith 17 run (Storto kick), 11:52
DC — Smith 20 run (Storto kick), 8:22
C — Torris Green 54 run (Seth Pennock kick), 3:59
Rushing — Central, Tyvis Smith 39-336, Tatlan Anderson 2-13, Griffin Corbin 2-2, Nick Gowey 1-minus-2; Clinton, Torris Green 27-271, Ryan Driscoll 6-25, Will Carr 11-22, Travis Morehead 1-2.
Passing — Central, Gowey 6-19-3, 58 yards; Clinton, Carr 7-21-0, 75 yards.
Receiving — Central, Smith 2-24, Ryan Cartee 2-13, Corbin 1-12, Anderson 1-9; Clinton, Cody Collender 2-48, Morehead 4-20, Green 1-7.