CLAYTON, Mo. – A slick football was difficult to secure on Saturday as intermittent rain showers and gusting winds gradually created a more persistent nuisance.
Farmington lost five fumbles amid a somewhat sloppy road performance, but averted what could have been a crippling setback in terms of district playoff positioning.
The Knights made two red-zone stops in the closing minutes, and grabbed four interceptions to defeat slumping Clayton 28-18 in a game that featured nine turnovers and 21 accepted penalties.
Farmington (5-3) can clinch no worse than a No. 2 seed in Class 4, District 1 by defeating Parkway West on Friday if North County also handles Fredericktown.
Senior quarterback Nathaniel Link rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries, and Tyler Barber added 55 yards on 13 attempts in the victory.
Three straight Farmington series ended suddenly on its side of midfield with opposing players falling on a loose ball during the fourth quarter.
Clayton (1-6) was unable to convert any of those breaks into points. Knights cornerback Carson Sutton wrestled a fluttering pass from its intended receiver to halt the first chance.
Devan Hughes blocked a 39-yard field goal attempt with 2:59 to play following a Colby Barnes sack, and Link sealed the outcome with a subsequent leaping pick in the end zone.
The Greyhounds focused much of their offense around junior Al Slater, whose stellar one-handed catch and run for a 48-yard touchdown slashed his team’s deficit to 21-18.
Farmington responded with a pivotal scoring drive behind its line with rain intensifying. Link absorbed helmet-to-helmet contact while scrambling for 18 yards with a personal foul penalty added.
His 3-yard keeper with 1:34 remaining in the third quarter restored a two-possession cushion following another flag against the home team.
Slater began the afternoon at quarterback, but lined up all over the field once Dominick Waller began taking snaps after Clayton generated minimal progress through its first two drives.
The Knights conversely put together a solid opening march. Link completed just 3-of-8 passes overall, but found Adam Khtiri for 14 yards on an early third-and-13 throw.
Tycen Gray spun through a defender during an 11-yard touchdown run, and Link sprinted 60 yards with an option keeper following a Clayton punt to establish a 14-0 advantage.
Waller finished 8-of-21 overall for 176 yards, and made his initial impact with a 28-yard throw to Max Friedman after being flushed from the pocket.
Jimmie Adams followed with a 22-yard touchdown catch – his first of two scores on the day – and the Greyhounds would soon threaten to tie following two Farmington fumbles.
Eli Lamb intercepted Waller near the pylon to turn back Clayton momentarily, but Adams brought down a 9-yard pass from Slater with 7:43 left before halftime.
Farmington stopped the ensuing 2-point conversion try to stay ahead 14-12, then arguably received its most fortunate bounce after dropping another carry on the turf.
After Cody Wright spurred the Knights with a 23-yard run, senior lineman Michael Simmons scooped a fumble at the Clayton 5 and was pushed into the end zone by a crowd of teammates.
The peculiar touchdown epitomized a strange game, but of greater importance, gave Farmington a 21-12 lead after Kael Krause booted the extra point.
Freshman Ryan Barnes collected an onside kick, but the Knights stalled at the Greyhounds’ 9-yard line just before halftime when Henry Keil sacked Link for the second time on fourth down.
Wright added an interception, and Rothman Harris provided two tackles behind the line of scrimmage for Farmington.
Slater had three catches for 91 yards, and rushed 23 times for 79 more to pace Clayton.