Anthony Gaskins and Tam Barbour led the way as Clayton put on a clinic on how to recover from a tough loss in a 38-7 romp over Harnett Central Friday night.
CLAYTON --Anthony Gaskins and Tam Barbour led the way as Clayton put on a clinic on how to recover from a tough loss.
Barbour rushed for 125 yards and two breakaway touchdowns on seven carries while Gaskins returned a punt for a touchdown and caught a pass for another in a 38-7 romp over Harnett Central Friday night.
Both teams are now 2-3, 1-1 Greater Neuse River 4A play.
Clayton was coming off a 28-0 loss at long-time rival Garner while Central had upset visiting Southeast Raleigh 17-16 in their conference openers last week.
“The first thing I told them on Monday was that we were a better football team against Garner than we had been the week before,” Clayton coach Gary Fowler said. “And a good team just magnified the mistakes. The kids responded this week.
“We live off our defense, and I thought the offensive line gave us the best effort all season.”
Clayton finished with 256 yards rushing and 289 total offense.
Central, led by quarterback Jermaine Royster who passed for 107 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 60, had 199 offensive yards.
“I think we generated a lot of offense, but we just didn’t capitalize when we needed to,” Central coach Patrick Turner said. “Every time we got something going we shot ourselves in the foot with a penalty or a turnover or gave up a big play.
“Clayton did what they were going to do and ran it up. Other than two big plays we played well enough on defense to win the game, but we never controlled the momentum.”
Clayton led 17-0 at halftime.
The Comets took the lead with a couple of lightning strikes in the first quarter.
Barbour burst up the middle for a 48-yard score at the 10:00 mark, with Nick Christensen adding the conversion.
Then with 3:49 left Gaskins received a punt on his shoe tops at his own 31, found a seam up the middle and returned it for a touchdown. Christensen’s boot made it 14-0.
“My blockers were set up perfectly and I got behind the wedge,” Gaskins said. “We had played good defense against a good team last week, but this time we just did what we had to do to win.”
Clayton stretched it to 17-0 with 6:18 left in the half on a 30-yard Christensen field goal. That came nine plays after Demage Bailey recovered a Royster fumble at the Trojans’ 48.
Clayton had another chance to score later in the quarter but Christensen’s 34-yard attempt was blocked, and then the Trojans drove to the Clayton 19 in the closing seconds of the half where Holden Howell’s field-goal attempt was also blocked.
Barbour got his second touchdown with 9:43 left in the third, bursting up the middle for a 56-yard sprint with Christensen adding the kick.
“The offensive line just did a great job,” Barbour said. “I think they were as good as they’ve been all year. That was a tough loss last week, but we turned things around big-time.”
And the Comets made it 31-0 with 5:12, as Sam May found Gaskins in the end zone from five yards out with Christensen kicking to complete a six-play, 49-yard march.
Bailey put the Comets up 38-0 with 2:27 left in the third when he returned an interception 42 yards with Christensen converting again.
“I just listened to what my coach said and put my hands up,” Bailey said. “Then fortunately I got good blocking and came away with the touchdown.”
Central finally broke through with four seconds left in the third, as Royster connected with Tre Rogers for an eight-yard score and Howell added the kick.