Irwin beaten by “better team” as Clinch wins title

ATLANTA — A repeat trip to the title game for Irwin County was not enough as Clinch County defeated the Indians 24-7 Friday in the Class A Public championship game at the Georgia Dome. It was the second consecutive runner-up finish for the Indians and head coach Buddy Nobles.

Ziaire Andrews scores Irwin's sole TD of the contest. Photo: SHine Rankin/SGsN

Ziaire Andrews scores Irwin’s sole TD of the contest. Photo: Shine Rankin/SGSN

We got beat by a better team today. I have to be a better head coach,” Nobles said.
The Indians (10-3-1) struggled to stop Clinch’s running game and backs Charles McClelland and Shannon Young. After a three-and-out on Irwin’s opening series, Nathan Tucker’s punt was blocked by Chauncy Manac and recovered by Marcus Hodges just inside the Irwin 30 yard line. From there, the Panthers (13-1) went on a seven play drive in which Young finished off from the one. An attempt for two failed and Clinch led 6-0 with 7:12 left in the first.

Irwin briefly led in the first quarter when an Irwin drive started deep in their own territory after a 50-yard punt by Colten Manac. Ziaire Andrews took a sweep around right end and blazed down the home sideline for a 93-yard touchdown run. Austin Pettis’ kick was good and Irwin led 7-6 with 15 seconds remaining on the clock.

Clinch would regain the lead and never look back on their next possession, when Young finished a nine play, 63-yard drive with a two yard run. A try for two was again no good, but the Panthers had the lead back at 12-7 with just under nine minutes to play in the first half. The Indians had a chance to retake the lead. DJ Pollard rushed for 46 yards on the drive, but on the 11th play of the drive, quarterback Zach Tolar was intercepted at the two and returned 14 yards out to the Clinch 16.

“We thought we would run a read-fake, the tight end was wide open, it is just something we need to keep working on,” Nobles stated.

 

Tough Sledding: Irwin struggled to find holes in the Clinch Defense. Photo: Danielle Bundrick/SGSN

Tough Sledding: Irwin struggled to find holes in the Clinch Defense. Photo: Danielle Bundrick/SGSN

The Panthers took the opening possession of the second half and went down the field 68 yards in six plays, as Trezmen Marshall went in for a 5-yard run with 9:48 and Clinch leading 18-7. The game was put out of reach in the fourth quarter when McClelland had a 36-yard touchdown run. The sophomore scored after breaking through Irwin tacklers and gave the Panthers the final victory at 24-7.

Clinch won another title for coach Jim Dickerson, his third as a head coach (2004, 2010). The Panthers had 292 yards of total offense, all on the ground, while Irwin had 282. The Indians ran for 254 yards, including 132 from Andrews and 89 from Pollard. McClelland had 173 hards rushing and Young added 60 for the Panthers.

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