tates creek 21, henry clay 14

Tates Creek stops skid against Henry Clay

'dores dominate time of possession, halt losing streak

mfields@herald-leader.comSeptember 10, 2011 

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Tates Creek and Henry Clay scored 102 fewer points and gained 400 fewer yards than when they faced off last year, but Friday night's rivalry renewal was a lot more dramatic.

And a lot more fun for the Commodores.

After losing to Henry Clay 85-52 last October, Tates Creek outlasted the Blue Devils 21-14 and ended a seven-game losing streak in the cross-town series.

"This one was a whole lot better," Commodores star Dennis Oxendine said. "We hadn't beaten them in a long time. We had to have it."

After building a 21-0 lead in the first half behind Oxendine's running and passing, the Commodores were able to hold on.

Leading 21-14, Tates Creek faced a fourth-and-three at the Henry Clay 45 with just over three minutes left.

Commodores Coach Mike Harmon didn't hesitate to call for a fake punt.

"I didn't consider it a gamble," he said. "I told our guys it was just another offensive play."

Casey Grimes took the short snap, sliced through the line and raced 24 yards for a first down. Tates Creek ran out the clock from there.

"I thought that fake punt was the play of the game," Henry Clay Coach Sam Simpson said. "If we'd gotten the ball back, we might've had a little momentum and maybe put up a score."

Tates Creek executed its game plan — control the ball and control the clock — to perfection. It enjoyed a whopping advantage in time of possession — 34 minutes to 14.

It had a 13-play, 97-yard scoring drive that took more than five minutes, and a 14-play, 80-yard march that consumed more than eight minutes.

The Commodores' last possession of the night was a doozy. It lasted 15 plays and more than 10 minutes.

"I thought if we could have the ball the whole game and not let Henry Clay touch it, I thought we could win," Harmon said with a laugh.

His main concern was the Devils' big-play capability, particularly the fast feet of sophomore Davion "D.J." Jackson.

Jackson emerged as Henry Clay's go-to guy when he rushed eight times for 174 yards and three TDs in last week's loss to Belfry.

He showed his stuff against Tates Creek, too. He carried 16 times for 94 yards and two touchdowns.

"He's unbelievable. He's just so explosive," Harmon said.

But he didn't get enough opportunities because Tates Creek had the ball most of the time.

When it did, Oxendine was the workhorse. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound junior was sensational. He ran 25 times for 184 yards and a TD, and he also threw Tates Creek's first TD pass of the season.

Harmon said the trick play was scripted into the Commodores' first series.

Oxendine took a pitch from quarterback Martrell Berry, pulled up, then turned and floated a perfect pass to Berry on the right sideline.

Berry sped 39 yards for the TD.

"I'm trying to play quarterback next year," Oxendine said with a smile.

Oxendine accounted for 70 of the 93 yards on Tates Creek's next scoring drive, making it 14-0.

Berry hit a wide-open Cal Stewart with a 16-yard TD toss on fourth-and-2 to make it 21-0.

Henry Clay didn't go away, though, and made it a fight almost to the finish, at least until the fake punt.

Tates Creek's defense, led by Kalin Poe, Kevin Humbert and Taylor Grimes, limited Henry Clay to 119 yards.

The Devils are 0-4. They also lost their first four games in 2008, but bounced back to win six in a row, including a victory in the playoffs.

Tates Creek 7 14 0 0—21

Henry Clay 0 7 7 0—14

TC—Martrell Berry 39 pass from Dennis Oxendine (Jake Ryan kick). TC—Oxendine 3 run (Ryan kick). TC—Cal Stewart 16 pass from Berry (Ryan kick). HC—Davion Jackson 36 run (Jonathan McClary kick). HC—Jackson 13 run (McClary kick).

Records—Tates Creek 2-2; Henry Clay 0-4

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