Claxton quarterback Karon Taylor can beat you with his arm and his legs and that is exactly what he did in his first trip in to Booster Stadium in Lyons. The talented 5-8 160 pound sophomore threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score in Claxton’s 21-14 win over the Toombs County Bulldogs. Taylor also made other key running and passing plays to extend Tiger drives.
Taylor threw a 74-yard touchdown pass Devon Hagan and an 11-yard TD strike to Myles Freeman in the second quarter. He ran for his six-yard score in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs cut two 14-point Claxton leads down to a touchdown with TD runs by Demetrius Owens of 15 and four-yards.
The Bulldogs will head in to an off week, prior to the start of Region 2 play, with a 2-2 record. Claxton will jump in to region play with a 3-0 record. The last time the Tigers opened with three straight victories was in 2002. They beat Jasper County (South Carolina), Metter and Bleckley County. Ironically the win streak came to an end with a 27-0 home loss to Toombs County.
Listen to Y-101 play-by-play 1st Half
Pictures by J.D. Rogers
Friday night was also Homecoming for the Bulldogs and senior Divoria Gaffney was named he Homecoming Queen. Divoria is both a competition and spirit cheerleader along with being a talented long jumper and sprinter on the track team.
Makinna Salem and Makinna Marsh tied for princess. Salem was also a princess last year.
For the first time this season the Bulldogs and an opponent played a scoreless opening quarter. The first three times the Tigers had the ball they went three and out. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs picked up a first down on their opening possession on an offsides penalty by Claxton. A six-yard loss on a second and five running play bogged down the Dawgs and they wound up punting. Cole Graham using a new rugby style approach booted the ball 45-yards down field- the longest TCHS punt of the season.
Claxton ran three plays and went for the first down on fourth and one at the Tiger 38. A bunch of Bulldogs made the tackle at the line of scrimmage and Toombs took over at the 38. Demetrius Owens carried the ball three straight times for a first down. However, at the Claxton 22 the Bulldogs threw an incomplete pass on a fourth and three play.
The Tigers were called for holding on their third possession and they ended the first quarter with their second punt and they still didn’t have a first down. From the Claxton 48, TCHS started the second quarter losing seven-yards on a quarterback snack. Although QB Trey Cloud ran for 10-yards on a determined run the Bulldogs had to punt on fourth down and this time Graham sent the ball inside the five-yard line, but after couple of bounces the ball wound up in the end zone for a 40-yard punt.
On their fourth possession the Tigers didn’t pick up a first down, but they did score a touchdown and it only took two plays to go 80-yards. Taylor completed a six-yard pass on first down and then he dropped back to throw on second down. The Bulldogs didn’t buy the play fake and three blue jerseys were pressuring Taylor from the left. Meanwhile, downfield Hagan was separating from the Toombs County secondary. His five-yard advantage allowed him to turn his back and catch the Taylor pass at the Bulldog 45. Three Dawgs were in pursuit, but none closed the full gap and the 6-1 185 pound senior ran in to the south end zone for a quick strike 74-yard TD completion. Add the Jorge Gonzalez PAT and Claxton had a 7-0 lead with 8:35 to play in the first half.
Cloud completed an 18-yard pass to Raekwon Powell for a first down on the next TCHS possession. However, a Bulldog penalty and two incomplete passes forced Graham to punt again. This time 37-yards to the Tiger 33. Brannon Usher crossed the line of scrimmage and for a nine-yard TFL (tackle for a loss). Taylor ran for 14-yards on a third down and 19 play forcing the Tigers to punt again. A 33-yard boot set the Bulldogs up at their 33. Three D.J. Mincey runs netted six-yards and on fourth down Graham punted the ball 47-yards down to the Claxton 14.
The long field and a short clock (2:58 to play in the half) didn’t bother the Tigers this time. Taylor ran for seven and nine-yards sandwiching a Bulldog TFL for a loss of six-yards. Next two Taylor passes covered 68 of the 84-yards on this TD drive. The first toss was short to Freeman, who caught the ball three-yards downfield. He made a Bulldog miss at the 40-yard line and then two more at the 45. Freeman ran down the Claxton sideline and would have scored had Chandler Lynn not been successful with a diving tackle at the TCHS 11. On the next play, Taylor rolled to his left and the righty fired the ball back toward the right side of the end zone where Freeman had separation plus superior leaping ability. He jumped and high-balled his catch for a touchdown with just 24 seconds remaining in the half. Gonzalez’s extra point upped the Claxton lead to 14-0 at the break.
The Bulldogs first possession of the second half included three Cloud completions. One to Ashlee Ashley for six-yards and two first down tosses to Lynn for 14 and 38-yards. The drive stalled five-yards away from the red zone on three incomplete passes and a quarterback sack. The Toombs County defense stopped Claxton on the Tigers’ first offensive series of the second half and a 28-yard punt and five-yard return by Lynn set TCHS up at the Claxton 41.
Owens took over running the ball for 20, 11 and 10-yards and then MIncey for three more as the Bulldogs finally moved in to the red zone, On first and 10 from the Tiger 15, Demetrius took the handoff and darted through a big hole, on the left side, created by Treyvon Wiggins and Usher. The senior had to fight for the final two-yards to complete his 15-yard touchdown run. Rafael Perez split the north end zone uprights and now the Claxton lead was 14-7 with 4:07 to play in the third quarter.
Toombs County desperately needed another quick stop, but Claxton stepped up with a 10-play, 57-yard scoring drive which took nearly seven minutes to complete. Taylor was the key Tiger. On second and 25, Powell knocked away a Taylor pass to make it third down. Taylor took off on a 14-yard to make it fourth and 11 and on his next throw the Bulldogs were called for pass interference and that gave Claxton a first down at the TCHS 30.
Taylor ran for seven and nine-yards and that helped set up his final contribution on the drive. On first and goal, Taylor dropped back to pass and feeling pressure from Cameron Braddock he tucked the ball and ran to the left corner where he made a move and scored on a six-yard run with 9:44 to play in the game. An extra point made it 21-7 Tigers.
The Bulldogs answered with a 10-play, 70-yard scoring drive. Cloud and Powell combined on a five-yard completion, Mincey ran for four-yards and a Tiger penalty gave Toombs a first down. Owens ran for eight-yards and a Claxton penalty yielded another Dawg first down. Mincey had to come out of the game and freshman Silas LeGrant, who scored a pair of touchdowns the day before in a JV game, ran for a yard and then two more. Cloud threw to Lynn for 13-yards and a first down. Owens returned to the backfield and he ran for six-yards and then three more. Claxton was flagged again. On third and goal Owens ran the final four-yards and scored his second TD of the game and the third of his senior season. Perez went 12-for-12 on PAT’s to cut the Claxton lead to 21-14 with 5:13 to play.
Claxton picked up two first downs and punted the ball to Toombs at the Bulldog 10. With 1:51 left in the game Cloud was sacked for a seven-yard loss prior to throwing two fine balls to Lynn for gains of 11 and 7-yards and a first down. Cloud’s next pass was intercepted by the Tigers, who let Taylor run around with the ball and kill the clock.
TD 8:35 Claxton- Karon Taylor 74-yard pass to Devon Hagan (PAT good) 7-0
TD :24 Claxton- Taylor 11-yard pass to Myles Freeman (PAT) 14-0
TD 4:07 Toombs County- Demetrius Owens 15-yard run (Rafael Perez PAT good) 14-7
TD 9:44 Claxton- Taylor six-yard run (PAT good) 21-7
TD 5:13 Toombs County- Owens four-yard run (Perez PAT good) 21-14
Demetrius Owens 18 carries for 96-yards (5.3) ans 2 TD’s
D.J. Mincey 9 carries for 16-yards (1,8)
Silas LeGrant 2 carries for 3-yards
Cole Graham 1 carry for 1-yard
Trey Cloud 4 carries for -8-yards
Totals 34 carries for 108-yards (3.2) and 2 TD’s
Trey Cloud 9-for-20 for 113-yards and 1 INT
Chandler Lynn 6 catches for 84-yards (14.0)
Raekwon Powell 2 catches for 23-yards (11.5)
Ashlee Ashley 1 catch for 6-yards
Cole Graham 4 punts for 169-yards (42.3) and a long of 47