DAVENPORT – Mental mistakes.
That’s what it came down to for the River Kings ultimately on Thursday, when a penalty-filled game ended in a 19-7 loss at Davenport West. The hankies thrown nearly halted the offense completely for Clinton.
The omens started early. On the River Kings’ first drive, two flags were thrown in five plays, quickly turning the ball into the hands of the Falcons.
“I think it was mental breakdowns really,” sophomore quarterback Jai Jensen said. “People not knowing their assignments or melting down after penalty after penalty.”
It continued. Clinton had 10 total flags thrown in the first half alone. Each time they made headway offensively, it seemed the yards were erased.
It made for a lot of third and long situations.
“To be honest, I think we had a couple big crucial plays in the game, and they got called back unfortunately,” Jensen said.
It showed in the final seconds of the first half. The Clinton offense was trying to make headway and had two flags thrown in the final minute of the game. The result? A Falcon touchback that gave West a 9-0 lead heading into the locker room.
On the other hand, the Clinton defense was doing work on the field. The combo of Jamie Miller and Jasper Luckritz made some clutch tackles for the River Kings and held the Falcons at bay multiple times.
West got just one drive through the defense in the first, a long march down the field that ended with a short run up the middle with 6:02 left to go.
“I think we had a good game last year and we wanted to come out and do the same,” senior Jamie Miller said. “We couldn’t get the yards on offense, but we had a good game on defense tonight.”
Still, the run was proving hard to stop for the out-sized River Kings. The Falcons had over 100 yards in the first half, compared to Clinton’s non-existent rushing.
“I think it was because they ran a play we weren’t expecting,” Miller said. “We weren’t ready for it.”
Coming out of locker rooms, the River Kings cleaned it up. They had no penalties through the third quarter.
The defense also lost a pair on the field, including Jasper Luckritz. They kept their cool and continued to make the plays, allowing just one more touchdown on the night.
“It didn’t hurt us much,” Miller said. “We knew we had a good team, we pushed together, and we didn’t get down on each other about it.”
Still, there were communication breakdowns that saw the Falcons get big runs on them.
“The approach was to get through the line, just pushing through,” Miller said. “I think [we need to be] more aware of what’s happening.”
Meanwhile, the offense still struggled. In the fourth, four more flags were thrown and Jensen threw an interception as mental lapses continued.
“I was trying to stay calm and not get too frustrated,” Jensen said. “We could have easily put up some points after halftime.”
Senior Zach Hoffman came in for Jensen, and started an impressive drive down the field with a long pass to Treveon Bailey, who caught it on the West sideline before falling out.
With 25 seconds left, he found the hands of JR Wauford in the endzone and Will Sivright topped it off with the extra point.
The River Kings (0-2) will stay on the road next Friday, heading to Bloomington.