CLEARWATER—It wasn’t the prettiest game by any definition, but the Orioles did enough to get the job done.
Clearwater’s football team took advantage of some early miscues by Augusta, and the game was only tied 7-7 at halftime. But the Orioles overcame their sluggish performance and slowly took control on way to a 19-7 victory Friday night on the road. With the win, the Orioles move to 2-0.
Jake Swink turned out to be the big difference. The senior receiver for the Orioles emerged as a playmaker as he finished with two touch touchdown catches in the second half. He finished with three grabs for 37 yards in all.
“Feels pretty great,” Swink said. “I feel like I’ve been running good routes.”
Whether it was field position or sloppy execution, the Orioles had trouble getting off to a strong start. Clearwater put together a strong opening drive before punting. The Orioles were pinned at their 4 yard line and couldn’t do much with the ball.
Neither team really could get into much of a rhythm. Clearwater was called for several holdings throughout the game. The Indians finished with 12 penalties for 133 yards. Augusta committed seven penalties for 49 yards.
“So many flags. They were picky about a lot of stuff,” coach Jason Filbeck said about the amount of calls on both sides.
Kendall Davis got a third-down sack on the Indians’ second possession, but the Indians again pinned the Orioles deep in their territory.
Augusta curiously went for a first down on fourth down deep in its territory, and the Indians came up with a stop at the 13. A few plays later, Clearwater’s Grant Martin hauled in a 14-yard touchdown reception from Corbin Lill in the final minute of the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead.
The Orioles had a promising drive come up short to start the second quarter. Clearwater’s defense consistently applied pressure and made things difficult for the offense.
“What we knew was going to happen is they were going to bring some blitzes from different places. And that 3-5 (formation), that’s why they put it in, and it’s tough for us. When we motion and they blitz off the motion, we were having trouble. Our guys were getting a little confused, who’s got who.”
They at least flipped field position, pinning Clearwater at its 5. A few plays later, Augusta senior corner Clay Wesbrooks jumped a route and came away with a huge interception at the Indians’ 34.
Augusta cashed in. Chance Whitehead got loose for a 30-yard run, then finished off the drive with a four-yard keeper to tie it 7-7.
Clearwater picked off a pass on the second play of the third quarter, but the Orioles’ defense stepped up big and stopped any momentum from the play. The teams exchanged punts until Augusta eventually broke through. Whitehead hit Ceetyn Anderson on a quick 15-yard pass to start the drive.
Whitehead later busted through the line and outraced most of the defense for a 48-yard pick-up to get in the red zone. Two plays later, Whitehead threw a back-shoulder pass to Swink for a 14-yard touchdown strike and Augusta’s first lead at 13-6.
“The longer we let them be in the game, 7-0 or 7-7, they got so much more confident and their kids were firing off,” Filbeck said. “….I think maybe we took them for granted thinking we were going to mow them over with our big guys up front. We didn’t. We had to earn a lot.”
The Orioles thought they made a great play after Coban Honey out jumped an Indian player to recover an onside kick, but the ball never hit the ground, and the Orioles had to rekick.
In the fourth quarter, Augusta’s defense recovered a fumble on a mishandling of a snap by Clearwater to set up shop deep in Indians’ territory. Three plays later, Whitehead hit Swink on a slant route through traffic for a 15-yard touchdown to seal the win.
Both teams got heated as penalties kept flying. There were a handful of excessive-contact penalties as well as a couple other dead-ball fouls.
Augusta outgained Clearwater 202-170. Clearwater actually finished with a 25:21-22:39 advantage in time of possession.
Whitehead finished with 105 of Augusta’s 127 rushing yards, most of which came on a few big runs. The Orioles weren’t able to dominate the line of scrimmage the way they might’ve expected to. But their defense played strong all game long, as well. Honey led the team with 13 tackles. Tyler Smith and Michael Adams both had nine tackles apiece. Davis had seven tackles, two of which were crucial sacks.
Notes: Swink had to be carried off the field after his second touchdown. But it was just cramps….Senior Jonny Clausing did not finish the game after he had to leave with a slight injury.