It was a contrast of styles as rivals Clayton and Corinth Holders met for a nonconference football game in front of a packed house and went back and forth Friday night at Nixon-Fowler Stadium.
The Pirates’ old-fashioned approach of grounding and pounding supplied them with a double-digit lead in the second half, but Clayton’s aerial attack proved to be too much as the Comets stormed back for a wild 40-35 win on the strength of Landen Leiser’s arm and Devin Carter’s hands.
Corinth Holders took an 11-point lead to half thanks to Frankie Miller’s blocked punt and Parker Slater’s 29-yard return but saw that lead evaporate by the middle stages of the fourth quarter thanks to a pair of long touchdown passes from Leiser to Macaleb Robertson and Carter.
The Pirates snatched the lead right back and led 35-34 on an A.J. Sealey 24-yard field goal with seven minutes remaining in the game.
It looked as though the lead might hold after a huge Trey Adams sack put the Comets into a 3rd-and-24 on its own 33-yard line before Leiser connected with Carter for the 14th time on the night for a 67-yard touchdown.
On the Pirates’ ensuing possession, the Comets held for a three-and-out and ran the clock out after Corinth Holders was forced to punt.
“Really we just had to stay relaxed,” Leiser said after falling behind. “If we play Clayton Comets football, then we can compete with anybody.”
On third down and long in its own end and trailing by a point late in the fourth quarter, Leiser looked for his go-to receiver one last time on a go route and the 6-foot-4 junior wide out beat double coverage to haul in the game-winning catch.
“It was all go, all-verticals,” said Carter of his third touchdown reception on the night. “We just took a shot. We’ve been practicing that all summer; that’s our go-to (play).”
THREE TO KNOW
Landen Leiser, Clayton: The junior quarterback was 29-of-42 for 390 yards in the air with five touchdowns. Over 240 of those yards came in the second half as the junior signal caller led the comeback for Clayton.
Devin Carter, Clayton: The junior wide receiver gave the Pirates secondary fits all game long, hauling in 15 passes for 211 yards and three scores.
Josiah Adams, Corinth Holders: The senior running back was a beast for the Pirates all game and a load for Clayton to bring down. Adams rushed for 183 yards and had touchdowns of 52 and 39 yards, with much of that mileage coming straight up the middle of the Comets defense.
BY THE NUMBERS
785: Combined yards the Comets’ and Pirates’ offensive units totaled.
218: Yards rushing amassed in the first half by Corinth Holders.
101: Yards receiving posted by Clayton’s Macaleb Robertson including two long touchdown receptions of 48 and 41 yards.
7: Lead changes in the game.
THEY SAID IT
“I think our guys played about as well as they could,” said Corinth Holders coach Bubba Williams. “We just ran out of gas and they had a lot more depth than we had but we fought as hard as we could and I commend them for that.”