Smithfield: Sports

Clayton stays unbeaten; Smithfield-Selma shows its determination

Smithfield-Selma’s A.J. Canon (9) dives by Clayton’s Anthony Ramos (44) for the first Spartan touchdown.
Smithfield-Selma’s A.J. Canon (9) dives by Clayton’s Anthony Ramos (44) for the first Spartan touchdown.

For For the fourth consecutive week, Clayton defeated a fellow Johnston County opponent: the latest such triumph a 37-23 victory over former Greater Neuse River Conference foe Smithfield-Selma.

The Comets (4-0) cruised to a 30-3 halftime advantage by scoring a touchdown on each of its four first half possessions with both Jace Brown and Eric Hoy finding the end zone on the ground and in the air in the opening half.

“I thought we did what we wanted to do in the first half,” said Clayton coach Randy Pinkowski. “I thought Sam (May) managed the offense well.

“We were able to get into our spread and run the two-minute offense a little bit and that looked good.”

May completed nine of his 11 passes for 128 yards and a pair of TDs.

Smithfield-Selma’s Chris Parker connected for a 38-yard field goal in the second quarter to draw the Spartans to within 14-3 but the Comets responded with an 11-play, 80-yard scoring drive that ended with a Jace Brown two-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal.

Clayton further added to its lead late in the second quarter on a safety when Seth Brendle sacked Spartan quarterback Chris Samuels in the end zone and then the Comets concluded the impressive half on a short Jace Brown touchdown reception.

After Hoy returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown midway through the third quarter,a reslient and improving Smithfield-Selma team found itself down 37-3 but rallied for the game’s final 20 points.

“Our guys don’t quit; they’ll get down but they don’t know how to quit,” said Smithfield-Selma coach David Lawhon. “We’re small in numbers and that hurts us but the guys we do have are fighters.

“I’m proud of my staff and I’m proud of my players.”

Raequan Smith led the charge for the Spartans as the sophomore running back rushed for 67 hard-fought yards, most coming in the second half.

A.J. Cannon supplied Smithfield-Selma with some additional spark when he found the end zone from seven yards out early in the fourth quarter.

John Lucas then recovered a fumble and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown before quarterback Chris Samuels found Robert Hicks for a 27-yard touchdown pass with 2:01 remaining in the game to cut the lead to 14 points.

Clayton sealed the game by recovering the ensuing onside kick to improve its record to 4-0 with all four contests being played within the borders of Johnston County.

The Comets will leave the county to take on long time rival Fuquay-Varina for one last test before conference plays begins the following week.

“We’ve got to come back Monday with tremendous focus,” said Pinkowski. “I told the guys that zero hour is rapidly approaching.

“When I say ‘zero hour’, I mean we’ve got to start playing mistake free football now the rest of the way.”