As the clock hit zero, hundreds of Corinth Holders students, fans and supporters rushed the field to join the Pirates.
The Corinth Holders football team and their fans had reason to celebrate. The Pirates held off rival Clayton for a 21-13 victory on a rare Wednesday night game. The contest was moved up a day early as Hurricane Dorian is expected to drench the Triangle starting Thursday.
But it didn’t matter that the game was played early, all that mattered was the Pirates won, improving to 3-0 for just the second time in the eight-year history of the program.
“We’re just trying to make a new name for ourselves,” Corinth Holders senior Marcus Bland told the News & Observer after the game.
Corinth Holders has had success before in the 3A classification, but the jump to 4A hasn’t been kind to the Pirates. Corinth Holders has experienced consecutive three-win seasons, but have matched that win total three weeks into the 2019 campaign. A new name for themselves, indeed.
“Really just confidence in our teammates and each other,” Bland responded when asked what’s been the biggest difference this season. “Just being able to have confidence in our coach. We really trust our coach and expect him to give us plays to be able to excel in anything we do.”
The Pirates led 14-6 at the break, getting two scores from Bland. The senior struck pay dirt on a 3-yard run on the opening drive of the game, then caught a 16-yard pass from Matt Cozart in the second quarter to give Corinth Holders the eight-point advantage.
Clayton countered the opening score by the Pirates, going on a seven-play drive, capped off when Chris Barber beat his man with a double move and caught a 39-yard touchdown pass from Noah Anderson. Corinth Holders stopped the conversion attempt and played stout defense the rest of the way.
Daishon Bell picked off an Anderson pass on Clayton’s third drive of the second quarter, and the Pirates held the Comets to 43 yards of offense on 15 plays in the second quarter.
The Comets’ biggest play came when Anderson found Barber for a gain of 25 on the first drive of the second quarter, but Clayton stalled and was forced to punt.
Two scores in a matter of 18 seconds to start the fourth set up the capacity crowd for an exciting finish.
Corinth Holders defender Jeffrey Palmer blocked a punt and it was scooped up and returned 43 yards for a touchdown by Langston Robinson. On the ensuing kickoff, Clayton took the ball to the Pirates’ 40 and Jalen Chadwick did the rest, taking the ball 60 yards to the house on the first play from scrimmage. After the successful PAT, the Comets trailed by eight with 11:28 remaining in the game.
However, the Corinth Holders defense would hold Clayton to just 2 yards the rest of the fourth quarter as the Pirates iced the game on a nine-play game to run out the clock.
Bland said the win over a county rival makes the 3-0 start even sweeter.
“We haven’t beat them in a long time,” Bland said. “All the stuff they were talking, we just had to be quiet and wait until the game and just show them.”
RECORDS: Corinth Holders (3-0), Clayton (0-3)
THREE WHO MATTERED:
(DAISHON BELL — Corinth Holders) The sophomore defensive back picked off two passes for the Pirates. In the first half, Bell tipped the ball to himself for the interception.
“When I saw it go in the air, I just got under the ball like a pop fly,” Bell said. “I just jumped up and caught it.”
On Clayton’s first drive of the third quarter Bell went up and came down with the ball in front of a group of Comets’ for his second interception.
(Kambron Whitaker — Corinth Holders) Senior running back rushed for 78 yards, with 38 of them coming on the final drive to run out the clock. On third-and8, Whitaker broke free for a 26-yard gain to Clayton territory.
(Jeffrey Palmer — Corinth Holders) Blocked a Clayton punt on the first snap of the fourth quarter, leading to a touchdown, giving the Pirates a 20-6 lead.
Corinth Holders opened in 2010 and fielded its first varsity team in 2011. Their best start was a 5-0 start to the 2015 season. This was just their second win over Clayton in school history.
This is the first time Clayton has started 0-3 since the 2015 season.
CH — Bland 3 run (Daniels kick)
C — Barber 39-yard pass from Anderson (Conversion failed)
CH — Bland 16-yard pass from Cozart (Daniels kick)
CH — Robinson 43-yard return (Daniels kick)
C — Chadwick 60-yard run (Williams kick)