LEES CREEK — East Clinton and Hillsboro played a hard-hitting, penalty-filled football game on a muggy night in Clinton County.
Despite having two players ejected, Hillsboro defeated East Clinton 21-7 in a non-league matchup.
It didn’t take the Indians long – 16 seconds in fact — to put the Brett Wightman scoreboard into motion when Mark Gallimore returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.
In the early going, East Clinton had solid defensive plays by Brody Fisher and Ethan Kessler to keep the Indians from sustaining a drive.
In one of the more unusual plays you’ll see, Hillsboro’s Sanchez Seals intercepted an East Clinton pass and lumbered 21 yards.
However, there were three penalties on the play. With the post-play unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on each team offsetting, the only foul that stood was a horse collar tackle on Hillsboro.
That infraction gave East Clinton a first down at the Indians 34.
Hillsboro’s defensive front gave EC fits early. Led by Logan Hester, the Indians kept the Astros running game in check.
But another Hillsboro post-play penalty gave EC a first down at the 16. After a Hillsboro sack, East Clinton cashed in those penalties when Jared Smith hooked up with Branson Smith for a 25-yard catch and run for touchdown. Phillip Davis added the extra point and the Astros took the lead 7-6 with 2:30 to play in the opening quarter.
EC’s defense got a big hit from Landon Runyon on the next drive to force a Hillsboro 11 yard punt but Drevan Stodgel of HHS intercepted a Jared Smith pass and returned the ball to the EC 30.
From there, the Indians ran the ball eight straight times with Gallimore, who rushed for 115 yards, reaching the end zone from 8 yards out. Brock Haines extra point put the Indians back on top 13-7 with 7:20 to play in the first half.
The East Clinton offense found its groove on the next drive as Jared Smith used his legs to run for 45 yards and put EC inside the 2. But a botched snap moved it back to the 6. Branson Smith’s effort on fourth and five came up short.
Early third quarter excitement was left to Jared Smith’s punting, a huge hit on defense by Kaleb Kingery and a long pass play by Hillsboro that looked like a fumble but was called incomplete.
Late in the quarter, Jared Smith, who led EC with 91 rush yards, scrambled in the backfield and looked to run. Then saw Branson Smith breaking free. The pass played gained 19 then add 15 yards for another Hillsboro horse collar penalty and EC was in business.
But on the next play Justin Spears intercepted Jared Smith’s pass at the Hillsboro 7.
The Indians then put the game with a strong drive midway through the fourth quarter. With Gallimore the workhorse and a couple of EC penalties mixed in, the Indians went up 21-7 on a 9-yard TD run by Silas Simmons. Spears then passed to Keith Doughman for the two-point conversion.
On the ensuring kickoff, the game was delayed for Hillsboro’s Isaac Lewis who was taken off the field by the Clinton-Highland Joint Fire District life squad.
On different plays, two Hillsboro players were ejected later in the game as post-play infractions continued to haunt the visitors.
Sept 13 2019
@East Clinton High School
H-Mark Gallimore 90 yard kickoff return (run failed) 11:44
EC-Branson Smith 25 yard pass from Jared Smith (Phillip Davis PAT) 2:30
H-Mark Gallimore 8 yard run (Brock Haines PAT) 7:20
H-Silas Simmons 9 yard run (Spears pass to Doughman) 4:14
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wnjsports