Interference - called and not called - gives Chapman the winning window
One pass interference that was called, one pass interference that wasn't called - that's all the window Chapman needed to defeat Clinton, 48-18.
The first region game of the season was a showcase of how officiating can kill momentum and demoralize a team. It showcased a high school game getting faster and faster, with officials too old and too slow to keep with teams that don't huddle, and too timid to make calls.
Do the officials need some guidance from the state office? Clinton football head coach Andrew Webb says, "No, they're fine. They made mistakes just like we do, there's no excuses, in a game like that. We just wanted the same call that they got."
It was woefully inconsistent for Clinton on their home turf, on Homecoming night. After officiating enraged and distracted the Clinton sideline, for some reason Chapman players got mad that they were winning by 30 points. One Panther intercepted a pass, and threw the ball at a Clinton tackler's head because he got tackled too rough. That resulted in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, against Clinton. Another Panther got so mad that he was blocked on a kickoff, that he charged the Clinton sidelines, an assistant coach ran out to grab him - like a bad World Wide Wrestling script, the officials' backs were turned. Clinton ball - no penalty assessed.
The head coaches stopped play, met in the middle of the field, and ended it - the chippiness that it. "We had to," Webb said. "Those six weren't going to do what we asked them to do - on both sides."
Webb himself was restrained by Red Devil Kris Holmes while the coach was arguing the pass interference that wasn't called. The official in best position to call it refused to come over and talk to Webb. That play was a 2-point conversion attempt - the thrown ball hit a Chapman defender in the back as he faceguarded receiver Dawson Green. It was the same play that Clinton got assessed for pass interference - just in the opposite end zone. The penalty negated a Clinton interception.
Without the 2-point conversion - or at least another shot at it, even if interference had been called, officials can't put 2 points on the scoreboard - the Red Devils were deflated. Just as the previous pass interference on Clinton gave Chapman another shot at the end zone and led to 6 Panthers points, the missed 2-pointer meant a distracted Clinton team kicked off to Chapman and the Panthers scored again. Clinton fumbled after the ballcarrier was down and Chapman benefited from another pass interference penalty to score again. By the time Clinton fumbled again with 2:11 left to play in the 3rd quarter, it was already 41-18 Chpman, and Clinton fans headed for the exits. Chapman scored again with 10:30 left in the game.
A Holmes touchdown tied the game at 6 with 2:37 to play in the 2nd quarter. Chapman scored again and onside-kicked. After Clinton recovered and having just 49 yards to go to the end zone, Mark Wise pounded through the soft middle of the Chapman line for another, move-the-pile touchdown. That 13-12 score with 1:20 to play before halftime was as close as Clinton would get.
Tquan Cromer lit up the home crowd with a kick return touchdown, and Clinton was down just 9 points with 9:13 to play in the 3rd quarter. Everything kind of fell apart for Clinton after that - after the officials no-call pass interference on the pass to Green for the 2 points.
At halftime, Tu'Nidra Richey, representing track and field, was crowned Homecoming Queen. She wore the crown back out onto the sidelines as varsity cheerleaders who had been in the Homecoming Court came back out to cheer in the 2nd half. Clinton travels to Mid-Carolina this coming Friday with an 0-1 region record. After that, it's Newberry (home-senior night) and Broome and Woodruff (both road) - any combination of 2 losses in those games makes the playoffs a challenge for the Red Devils.