HMS downs Cliton in thriller, 20-14

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After Harriman won the regular season Clinch Valley Conference Class A title two weeks ago with a dominant run game, they hoped to continue that play last Thursday against Clinton on homecoming. 

The run game was not as pretty as it was the week before, but the Blue Devils’ rushing attack came through in the clutch with a last second 51-yard touchdown by T.J. Phipps to put Harriman on top by a final score of 20-14.

Clinton got the ball to start the game and returned the ball to their own15 yard line. On a third-and-nine, running back J’Quan Thomas took the ball around the end and made the most athletic play of the night. Thomas hurdled clear over a Harriman defender and kept his feet to get the first down.  

The Dragons, however, couldn't turn the fantastic play into points, as Clinton and Harriman traded a few offensive possessions, but neither team could get anything rolling on offense.

Halfway through the second quarter Clinton, on their own 34 yard line, fumbled with Harriman defender, Hunter Clark recovering on Clinton’s 27 yard line.  This set up a four-yard touchdown by Phipps that put the Blue Devils up 8-0.  

With around two minutes left in the first half Clinton had a fourth down deep in their own territory and went for the fake punt, but the Blue Devils sniffed it out and dropped the Hawks for a two-yard loss on the Clinton 13.  

Phipps made the Dragons pay as he carried the ball up the gut for the two-yard score pushing the lead to 14-0 heading in to halftime.

Harriman got the ball to open the second half and drove right down the field, but the drive stalled with a sack on fourth down.  

Then with 1:59 left in the third quarter, Thomas caught a short pass and did the rest himself, weaving his way for a 64-yard touchdown, narrowing the margin to eight points.  

Clinton’s defensive adjustments a halftime held the Blue Devils scoreless in the third quarter and most of the fourth quarter.  The Dragons defense then came up with a huge play, as with Harriman threatening, Nathan Arwood fumbled with 4:40 left in the game and Clinton’s Justin Bond scooped up the fumble and ran it back 77 yards for the touchdown knotting the game up at 14-all.  

Late in the game Harriman was faced with a fourth down and decided to go for it. Phipps got the first down but fumbled the ball, and Clinton recovered. The Dragons, however, but couldn’t punch the ball in to take the lead. 

Harriman had the ball on their own 49 yard line with 15.7 seconds left in the game. Phipps took the hand off around the end headed toward the sideline, but cut up the field and took the ball to the house for 51 yards and the go ahead touchdown.  

“I was heading for the end zone all the way,” Phipps said. “When I saw that it was open, I went for it.” 

Harriman’s rushing attack rolled up 236 yards with Phipps getting the brunt of the work. Phipps finished with 149 yards on 25 carries while Jo Jo Luna finished with 87 yards on 12 carries. 

 Harriman plays Thursday night at 7 p.m. in a rematch against Spring City for the Clinch Valley Class AA Championship. The Blue Devils won at Spring City on Sept. 27, 20-6.