MURPHYSBORO — Devon Clemons scored three second quarter touchdowns to lead Murphysboro to a 40-19 win over Massac County in the opening SIRR Ohio Division game for both teams on the turf at “Doc” Bencini Field on Friday night.
“We didn’t come really hot, but we got it done in the second quarter,” said Murphysboro coach Gary Carter. “We got some big plays and obviously Devon and his brother Calvon did a great job. We gave up a touchdown on the opening kickoff, but our kids are resilient. I proud of them for fighting. Massac is big and their quarterback is a duel threat. Hats off to them, but we played well enough to win.”
Murphysboro (3-1, Ohio 1-0) was coming off a loss to Carterville while Massac County (2-2, Ohio 0-1) was also coming off a loss to Anna-Jonesboro.
Devon Clemons led the Red Devils in rushing with 155 yards on 20 carries and the three scores while his brother Calvon added 104 yards on six carries and two touchdown runs.
“Our line executed really well and the holes were wide open,” Devon said. “I knew when I got past the line and I saw the safety and corner break down I could bounce it out and just run it."
With the score tied 6-6 after the first quarter, the Red Devils scored on their first three possessions with Devon Clemons doing the honors.
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The rally started with Devon Clemons scoring from the five on the first play to complete a 24-yard, six play drive that began with Arojae Hart recovering a fumble by Tyrus Riley with 1:47 remaining the first quarter.
The Murphysboro defense stopped the Patriots on downs when they missed a 31-yard field goal attempt and it took the Red Devils just three plays to go the 80 yards ending with a 70-yard burst up the middle by Devon Clemons. Ethan Sunny kicked the point and the Red Devils led 20-6 with 8:14 remaining in the half.
“I went up the middle and I bounced it out to the right and once I got past the safety and the corner I knew I could score,” Devon said.
Following a three-and-out the Red Devils were driving again going 44 yards on four plays with Devon Clemons scoring his third touchdown on the quarter on a four-yard run. Sunny was good for the third straight time and Murphysboro led 27-6 with 4:52 remaining.
Murphysboro began its fourth drive at its own 40 following a punt and in four plays were knocking on the door at the one following a dazzling 22-yard catch by Calvon Clemons. But a bad snap resulted in the fumble that was recovered at the 16.
However, following back-to-back nine-yard runs by Patriots quarterback Justice Willis, Hart picked off his pass and returned it for a 55-yard touchdown at the buzzer, but the touchdown was nullified on a block-in-the-back penalty at the 17.
The second half also got off with a bang with Jesse Russell stealing a handoff and racing 28 yards with the fumble recovery for a Patriots touchdown. After Willis kicked the point, the Patriots trailed 27-13 after just 56 seconds.
Murphysboro got that one back in spectacular fashion with Drew Caldwell hitting Ethan Finke down the left sideline and the junior wide out sidestepped three defenders into the end zone, but the extra point was blocked leaving the Red Devils up 33-13 with 8:05 left in the third quarter.
The Red Devils had another touchdown called back when Calvon Clemons scored from the five on a 4th-and-1, but a holding penalty erased the score and one play later Murphysboro turned the ball over on downs at the 13 with 11:47 remaining in the game.
Clemons got his touchdown back scoring a 58-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-5 with 8:09 left. Sunny kicked the point to up the Red Devils lead to 40-13.
“If it wasn’t for my blockers it wouldn’t have happened,” Calvon said. “The play was jet left and my left halfback and wide receiver blocked really good. When I got past that first linebacker I knew I was going to score because nobody was going to catch me.”