CLAYTON—Clayton won its fourth consecutive Greater Neuse 4A Conference game Friday night as the Comets used a punishing running game to top Smithfield-Selma 41-7.
The Comets kept things simple and relied on a heavy dose of its backfield trio of Tam Barbour, Jace Brown and Cedric Harris to methodically grinded out yards and touchdowns.
Barbour and Harris each scored a touchdown and each gained more than 100 yards in the first half and Brown earned the tough yards up the middle as Clayton clinched at least a third place finish in the GNRC.
Harris finished with 158 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Barbour added 138 yards while Brown had 54 yards as Clayton ran for 432 yards.
“Clayton’s got a great ball club,” Smithfield-Selma coach David Lawhon said. “Our guys were out-manned but they didn’t quit. They played hard, gave it everything they had and left it all on the field. It just wasn’t enough.”
Clayton set the tone from its first offensive snap as Tam Barbour took the handoff and sprinted left before cutting back to the right where open space and a 64-yard rushing TD awaited him. On the first play of the second period, Cedric Harris broke several tackles on his way to a 36-yard score to put the Comets up 14-0.
“What they did was come out and they took care of business,” Clayton coach Gary Fowler said of his team’s performance on Homecoming night. “Right now we control our destiny.”
Clayton is 4-A in the conference and shares second place with Knightdale behind Garner. Clayton and Knightdale play in two weeks in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Smithfield, which broke their 26-game losing streak a week ago over Harnett Central, had 33 rushing in the first half and Clayton’s Anthony Gaskins had a pair of interceptions..
“The big thing tonight was our defense,” added Fowler. “That’s what we’ve been living on all season long.”
Quarterback Sam Moy threw for a score and ran for another to add to the Clayton cause.
Carlos Alexander f darted down the sideline for a late 87-yard rushing touchdown for Smithfield. He finished with 122 yards..
“We got a little taste of victory last week,” Lawhon said of his team’s 21-16 win over Harnett Central. “We’ve got one more game at home and I’m going to challenge the seniors. We’re going to try to step it up for them and see if we can’t get another victory for the seniors.”