BELOIT - This was the football game that was supposed to put the 4-3 Beloit Turner back on course.
Practices were sharp during the week as the Trojans' ranks were fortified by the return of several players who had served a penalty for an athletic code violation. Head coach Derek Diehl said playing rival Clinton would have his team's competitive juices flowing despite the Cougars' 1-6 mark.
So much for the Trojans' expectations.
Clinton and headstrong junior quarterback Jack Henschler had some of their own. Tired of being one of the Rock Valley Conference's punching bags, they stunned Turner on its soggy home field, 46-7.
"We've been having a rough season," said Henschler, who led an option-attack that rushed for 377 yards. "Tonight we just all really brought it. It was a team effort. Our offensive line blocked great and some of our younger guys stepped up. We just had a great all-around game."
Clinton marched 78 yards on its first possession and took a 6-0 lead on a 4-yard touchdown run by senior Jackson Nelson.
Turner, as expected, roared right back and took the lead on a 25-yard run to paydirt by Kyle Hanaman. Emiliano Reyes booted the PAT to put the Trojans on top, 7-6.
That's when the script took a surprising turn. The Trojans simply couldn't handle Henschler and company and they couldn't get out of their own way on offense.
Clinton built a 24-7 lead by halftime, scoring three second-quarter touchdowns after drives of 84, 83 and 60 yards. Senior Riley Anastasi capped the first with a 5-yard TD run and Nelson ended the second with a 1-yard TD dive. Nelson scored his third TD of the game with 2:29 left in the half on a 35-yard TD pass from Henschler.
If Turner entertained any hopes of a comeback, Henschler detoured them by scoring immediately on a 45-yard run.
"I had a good game on my reads, but it takes the o-line and everyone else to make those things happen," he said.
In a drenching rain, the Cougars tacked on a pair of fourth-quarter scores, on a 14-yard run by Tyler Dominy and a recovery of a blocked punt in the end zone by Caleb Bauer, one of 18 sophomores on the Cougar roster.
The Cougars rolled up 377 yards rushing on 59 carries with Nelson running 25 times for 144 yards and Henschler adding 133 on 17.
With a winnable game against Evansville-Albany next week, Clinton can look for a springboard at the end of its season. Turner (4-4), meanwhile, has its postseason plans hinging on a finale on the road against a tough East Troy team.
• NOTES: Turner ran 30 times for 172 yards, but lost two fumbles, had a pass picked off and was whistled seven times for 50 yards.
• BOXSCORE: Clinton 46, Beloit Turner 7.
Clinton.....6 18 8 14 - 46
Turner......7 0 0 0 - 7
C - Nelson, 4, run (run failed)
T - Hanaman, 25, run (Reyes kick)
C - Anastasi, 5, run (run failed)
C - Nelson, 1, run (run failed)
C - Nelson, 35, pass from Henschler (pass failed)
C - Henschler, 45, run (Harrington from Henschler)
C - Dominy, 14, run (Hesebeck run)
C - Bauer, 20, blocked punt return (run failed)
TEAM STATS: First downs - Cl 23, BT 10. Rushing - Cl 59-377, BT 30-172. Passing - Cl 75, BT 35. Passes - Cl 3-5-1. BT 5-11-1. Fumbles - Cl 2-0, BT 3-2. Punts - Cl 1-22.0, BT 4-26.0. Penalties - Cl 5-35, BT 7-50.
INDIDVIDUAL STATS: Rushing - Cl, Nelson 25-144, Henschler 17-133. BT, Hanaman 7-61, Majeed 10-40, Crall 2-35, Reyes 5-19. Passing - Cl, Henschler 3-5-1, 75. BT, Draeving 5-11-1, 35. Receiving - C, Nelson 1-35. BT, Reyes 2-13, Majeed 2-6.