Friday night marked the 81st homecoming in Clinton High School history and quite possibly one of the most memorable ones as well. Clinton playing league leading and unbeaten Little Rock Mills rallied from a 14-point deficit late in the second quarter to win 38-28. The Yellowjackets playing without quarterback Harley Tobin due to an injury were able to score 38 points on a Mills team that was only giving up 22-points per game and the Jackets defense held the high-powered Comets offense 21 points below their season average of 49 points per game.
The game was played before a large Homecoming crowd on a warm October night with Homecoming Queen Ashley James and her court looking on. Clinton took the ball to start the game but was unable to move the sticks and was forced to punt backing up Mills to their own 7-yard line. The Clinton defense forced a punt of their own and the Yellowjacket offense under quarterback Jobe Chalk took over at the 43-yard line. The Jackets moved the ball 57-yards with Chalk scoring on a 2-yard run at the 5-minute mark of the first quarter. The 2-point conversion was no good making the score 6-0. Mills answered quickly needing only 2:15 to tie the game on a Jabre Shaw 35-yard touchdown run. The Clinton defense stopped the 2-point attempt leaving the game tied at 6-6. A promising drive for the Yellowjackets ended with a fumble, the first of four turnovers on the night for the Jackets, at Comets 25-yard line. Mills quarterback Achilles Ringo hit Shaw on a beautiful throw and catch in the corner of the endzone to put the Comets back in the lead. The successful 2-point conversion put the Comets in the lead for the first time 14-6. An interception on Clintons next possession gave the ball right back to Mills. Ringo and Shaw hooked up again this time on a 30-yard touchdown pass with 7:01 left in half. Once again, the Yellowjackets stopped the 2-point attempt leaving the score Mills 20 Clinton 6. A second interception by the Comets deep in Yellowjacket territory gave Mills the ball at their own 2-yard line setting up one of the biggest plays of the game. Ringo the Comets quarterback tried to pass out of his own endzone but was chased down and sacked by Josh Witt for a safety giving the Jackets 2-points and forcing Mills to kick the ball back to Clinton. The Yellowjackets got good field position taking over at their own 48-yard line with just under 4 minutes left to play in the first half. The Jackets moved to the Comets 12-yard line where they faced a fourth down and 11 with only 24 seconds left in the half. Chalk found Zane Widner on a 12-yard touchdown pass. Jacob Hutto carried in the 2-point conversion and suddenly Clinton was back in the game trailing only 20-16 at the half.
Clinton surprised Mills by perfectly executing an on-side kick to start the second half taking over at the Comets 40-yard line. Nick Epley now in at quarterback and facing a third and long situation hit Sophomore Jasper Burgess on a perfectly executed screen pass that Burgess turned into a 45-yard touchdown run breaking a tackle at the 5-yard line to get into the endzone. Spencer Bannister raced in with the 2-point conversion and the Yellowjackets had the lead 24-20. After an unsuccessful on-side kick attempt Mills took over in great field possession at the Jackets 45-yard line. It did not take the Comets offense long to score covering the 45-yards in 3:30. Ringo scored the touchdown from 2-yards out and Antoine Pierce added the 2-point conversion on a pass from Ringo to give Mills the lead again 28-24. The touchdown by Mills would turnout to be the final points of the game for the Comets. Clinton committed its fourth turnover of the game on its next possession and things looked bleak but on the first play from scrimmage by Mills they handed the ball right back to the Yellowjackets on a fumble of their own and the Jackets took advantage of it. Clinton drove 52-yards for a touchdown scoring with just 51 seconds left in the third quarter. Epley scored the touchdown from 4-yards out and Cody Davis added the 2-point conversion to put Clinton back in the lead 32-28. Mills was not done yet driving deep into Yellowjacket territory on their next possession. The Jacket defense came up big getting a stop on fourth down at the Clinton 13-yard line. The Yellowjackets offensive line that dominated the second half of the game went to work and the Jackets drove 87-yards for a touchdown and the knockout blow for the Mills Comets. The final yard and the touchdown came from Epley with 6:20 left in the game. The 2-point conversion was no good making the score Clinton 38 Mills 28. Billy Standle would recover another successful on-side kick by the Yellowjackets, and Clinton would run out the clock for a big win at Jim Tumlison Field.
Spencer Bannister playing his first game at wingback played a great game leading all rushers with 123-yards on only nine carries averaging 13.7-yards per carry. Davis had 96-yards followed by Widner with 74-yads. The Clinton offense rolled up 475-yards despite turning the ball over four times and the Yellowjacket defense held the high-flying Mills offense to just 292-yards. The win evens Clinton’s overall record to 3-3 but more importantly the Yellowjackets now move to 2-1 in conference play. The Jackets have another tough game this week as they travel to top ten ranked and conference leader Stuttgart. The game starts at 7 pm and can be seen and heard on the Yellowjacket Sprots Network KHPQ 92.1.
Friday marked the 81st Clinton Homecoming. Homecoming has been held each year since football began at Clinton in 1939 except for 1943 and 1944 due to World War II.
Ashley James was the 2021 Homecoming Queen she is the daughter of Dale and Amanda James. Ashley a senior is a member of the Lady Yellowjacket basketball team.
The Junior and 7th grade football teams were off this week after defeating Batesville Southside last week. The two teams will be at home Thursday night hosting Stuttgart.