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Kemper County topples Clarkdale

By By Rocky Higginbotham/special to The Star
October 25, 2003
The Clarkdale football team had a pretty simple formula for making the postseason heading into Friday's final regular season home game beat Kemper County.
It didn't happen.
Visiting Kemper took advantage of five turnovers by the Bulldogs and overcame four lost fumbles beating Clarkdale 18-12 in a Region 5-2A contest.
The Bulldogs dominated Kemper statistically in the second half and fought to overcome a two-touchdown deficit; but failed to score on its final three drives all of which started inside the Kemper 35-yard line.
The win lifted Kemper to 2-7 for the season, and kept the Wildcat's postseason hopes alive. Clarkdale is also 2-7, and both teams are 2-2 in the region.
In fact, depending on the outcome of Friday's Lake/Newton contest, Clarkdale and Kemper could wind up in a three-way tie in the standings, with the third team left out of the postseason. If Kemper, Lake and Clarkdale finish tied, Kemper will be left at home because the Wildcats would have needed to beat Clarkdale by at least 10 points.
Kemper was without leading rusher Derek Welch, who didn't dress out because of strept throat. But the Wildcats got 177 of their 220 yards in the first half.
Freshman quarterback Marcus Green got loose on a 45-yard touchdown run to put the Wildcats up 6-0, with 3:42 left in the first half, and two plays later Kemper's David Wilson picked off a Clarkdale pass and returned it to the Bulldogs' 25.
From there, Christopher Brown had a big first-down run for the Wildcats, and Green scored on a 5-yard touchdown run. A try for two failed, but Kemper was up 12-0 , with 38 seconds left in the first half.
The Bulldogs finally got on the board with 4:47 left in the third, when Blake Johnson hit Ian McLaughlin on a 13-yard touchdown pass. Billie Watson blocked the PAT kick, leaving it a 12-6 game.
Kemper quickly went three-and-out, but on Clarkdale's next possession, disaster struck for the Dogs. Lashawn Houston picked off his second pass of the night for the visiting Wildcats, stepping in front of a screen pass and returning it 28 yards for a touchdown.
A try for two failed, but the Cats had the eventual winning points and an 18-6 lead.
Clarkdale cut it to 18-12, with 10:26 left in the contest, on a 31-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-9 play, but the team's try for two failed.
The teams then exchanged fumbles, and in the final 8:28, the Bulldogs had drives that started from the Kemper 33, 26 and 35.
The nail in the coffin came with 39 seconds left, when Johnson found Cedric Burns on a fourth-and-goal from the Kemper 9, and he was cut down by the Wildcats' Andrew Harrington at the 7.
Cyril Edwards led Kemper with 54 yards on 13 carries, and Green had 53 yards rushing and was 3-of-5 passing for 45 yards. Brown added 43 yards on 12 rushes.
Burns led Clarkdale rushers with 65 yards on 15 carries, and Johnson was 9-of-16 passing for 153 yards.
Clarkdale is at Newton on Friday, and Kemper will visit Philadelphia in a contest that has been bumped up to Thursday.