Sophomore running back Marquez Simpkins rushed for 180 yards Friday night to lead Clinton to a 20-12 victory over Heritage Hall at Pop Murray Field.
In a game that was delayed for one hour and 23 minutes by lightning, Clinton, ranked No. 2 in Class 4A, dominated the first half and built a 14-0 lead, in part on Simpkins' 123 yards rushing on 10 carries.
Simpkins had a scintillating 85-yard touchdown run in the second quarter when he was seemingly stopped for a short gain but spun out of the tackle and raced untouched to the end zone.
The Red Tornadoes scored first in the opening period on their first possession after stopping Heritage Hall on downs on the Chargers' 26-yard line. A miscommunication led Heritage Hall to go for it on fourth-and-4 instead of punting.
Clinton cornerback Jevin Jefferson batted down Connor McGinnis' pass as the Red Tornadoes scored four plays later on a 3-yard run by Aaron Lustfield.
Heritage Hall made a furious rally in the second half and pulled within 14-12 with 8:10 left in the game. Heritage Hall scored on fourth-and-6 from the Clinton 7 when McGinnis connected with Chedon Shockley on a touchdown pass to cut the lead to 14-6 early in the fourth quarter.
Shockley then recovered an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff. Seven plays later, Heritage Hall's T.J. Schallner broke up the middle for a 26-yard touchdown run, but the Chargers' two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving the score 14-12.
Heritage Hall recovered a fumble on Clinton's next possession, but McGinnis was stopped on downs on fourth-and-4 at the Clinton 33.
Clinton then put the game away with a seven-play, 67-yard touchdown drive, capped off by Devon Mitchell's 1-yard touchdown run. Simpkins, who finished the game with 180 yards rushing on 14 carries, ripped off runs of 12 and 42 yards on the game-winning drive.
It was the first time the Red Tornadoes have defeated Heritage Hall in three tries. Heritage Hall, ranked No. 7 in Class 3A, fell to 1-1, while Clinton improved to 1-1.