Tina Atkins/For the Times Red Boiling Springs sophomores Michael Mathews (32) and Devin Justice (66) tackle Clay County junior Wyatt Burks during the Bulldogs' 36-14 loss on Friday evening.

Tina Atkins/For the Times

Red Boiling Springs sophomores Michael Mathews (32) and Devin Justice (66) tackle Clay County junior Wyatt Burks during the Bulldogs' 36-14 loss on Friday evening.

RED BOILING SPRINGS -- One of the greatest concerns for head coach Matt Swoner entering his first home game as the head coach of the Red Boiling Springs High football program was his team's ability to square up against another team for four quarters of football.

That was the case on Friday night as the Bulldogs from Clay County scored two touchdowns in fourth quarter to pull away from the Bulldogs of Red Boiling Springs in 36-14 contest.

Clay County pulled away just when it seemed momentum was swinging the home team's way.

"The score does not reflect the truth about this game," Swoner said. "We are not in four-quarter shape. We still have work to do."

Region 4 foe Clay County, coming off its first winning season since 2008, found itself in a bundle of emotions after being told in their pregame meal that head coach Matthew Bates was parting ways with the program and would coach his last game on Friday night.

Clay County struck first on their opening drive when quarterback Jake Ashlock hit Hayden Cherry in the end zone in their first possession, but RBS senior quarterback Hunter Kirk found some daylight on a keeper along the left side for a 54-yard touchdown on the ensuing drive.

"My blockers were the difference," said Kirk. "I saw open field and turned on the jets."

Swoner added, "I told him going into the game that if he could get to the edge, then he could go. He listened to me."

Clay County answered that score and put together a nine-play, 73-yard drive, capping it off with Ashlock's 1-yard touchdown run with 2:51 left in the first quarter. The point-after touchdown (PAT) was blocked, leaving Clay County with a 13-7 lead.

Both teams fumbled away the ball during their next two possessions, and going into the second quarter, Clay County was controlling the clock during a 10-play possession, which included fourth-down conversion on a 2-yard rush by John Copeland.

Helped by a personal foul penalty on RBS, Ashlock would go to the air for the last 32 yards of that drive, hitting Wyatt Burks twice for a total of 31 yards and Hayden Cherry for a 1-yard touchdown. Zach Strong added the PAT for a 19-7 advantage.

Clay County found itself in great field position once more late in the first half, but the RBS defense tightened up, causing them to attempt a 19 yard field goal that was no good.

Clay County received the ball in the second half and started a drive, which included two fourth-down conversions. An incomplete pass by Ashlock gave RBS the football near midfield, at the Clay County 42 yard line.

Kirk rushed five times for 21 yards before an offsides penalty had RBS facing a fourth-and-7 situation at the 26 yard line. A 12-yard scamper by Kirk led by Dalton Thompson's block moved RBS to the 14 yard line. However, the momentum did not last long as a result of a fumble on the next play, turning the ball over to Clay County.

The ensuing Clay County drive ended eight plays later when Michael Mathews made a diving interception, giving RBS the ball back at the Clay County 31 yard line.

Kirk picked up a first down before RBS founds itself in a fourth-and-15 situation at the 22 yard line.

"I knew that we were going to have to do something, so we took a shot," said Swoner.

That shot was a pass from Kirk to senior wide receiver Joe Rose for the touchdown.

Mathews hit the PAT to pull RBS to within 20-14 with 9:50 left in the game.

Just when it seemed the game hard turned for RBS, Clay County mounted a 62-yard progression, which came exclusively via its ground game.

Jared Marcom capped the possesion with a touchdown run and with a successful two-point conversion run.

A penalty assessed on the ensuing kickoff had Clay County kicking off from the RBS 45 yard line and ultimately pinning RBS at its own 1 yard line.

Kirk carried the football three times up the middle and was hurt on the third play, causing him to leave the game. A short punt gave Clay County the ball at the RBS 25 yard line.

Six plays later, Ashlock connected with Cherry for the game's final touchdown.

Ashlock's successful conversion pass to B.J. Emberton capped the scoring.

RBS (0-2 overall, 0-1 in Region 4-1A) seemed to have a little more fight when Rose returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards to the end zone only to see it brought back to the RBS 23 yard line due to a block in the back penalty.

Clay County outgained RBS in total yardage, 336-227, and had nine more first downs than the host squad (15-6). Marcom piled up 121 rushing yards on 10 carries, and Burks gained for 87 yards on 13 rushes.

Kirk rushed for 143 yards on 20 carries.

RBS was plagued by its 106 penalty yards.

RBS will face a Gordonsville squad that picked up its first win of the season while on the road at neighboring rival Smith County last Friday, a 20-12 victory.

"They are always a good team," Swoner said of Gordonsville. "We will have to improve over what we done tonight against them."