LEES CREEK — A game that felt one-sided for three quarters turned into a barnburner late, but East Clinton’s comeback attempt on senior night fell short Friday in a 28-14 loss to Blanchester.
Blanchester, the two seed in Region 20’s playoffs, dominated everywhere but the scoreboard in the first half. A Brayden Sipple touchdown pass to Trenton Czaika with 1:03 left in the half gave Blanchester a 7-0 lead at the break.
After the intermission, Blanchester continued to dominate on both sides of the ball, stretching its lead to 28-0 on the first play of the fourth quarter thanks to Gage Huston’s running and three Sipple touchdown passes.
With 11:53 left in the game, Blanchester had outgained East Clinton 315-62 and had 19 first downs to just three for the Astros.
East Clinton, which could earn a rematch with the Wildcats in two weeks with an opening-round playoff win over Madison-Plains, finally got its offense in gear in the fourth.
Jared Smith led his team on a 5-play, 65-yard drive which he ended with a six-yard touchdown run. EC was on the board but trailed 28-6.
After an Astro failed onside kick attempt, Blanchester started on the EC 41. On the second play of the drive, Brayden Sipple was tackled low on a QB run. He stayed down for several minutes and then left the game under his own power. He was seen jogging on the sidelines, but he did not return to the game.
Two plays later, the Wildcats fumbled and EC was in business again.
This time, it took just three plays for Smith to lead his team down the field. He finished the drive with a 27-yard pass and a 32-yard touchdown pass to Landon Runyon. Smith ran in the conversion and cut the Blan lead to 28-14 with 7:17 left.
On East Clinton’s second attempt at an onside kick, the Astros found success. Jaden Singleton recovered the kick at the Blanchester 47.
Smith had four completions on the ensuing drive to take the Astros to the Blanchester 10. However, on fourth and one from the 10, while rolling to his left, Smith threw across his body to the goal line and Blanchester’s Colt Conover picked it off.
Blanchester ran out the final 5:02 to seal the victory.
Huston had a big game for Blanchester, especially in the second half. He finished with 98 yards rushing on 21 carries and a touchdown, and also added five receptions for 40 yards and a score.
Smith finished with 198 yards passing and two touchdowns, 153 of those yards coming in the final 11:53 of the game. EC outgained Blanchester over the final 11:53 162-21, and the Astros gained those 162 yards on just 14 plays.
Nevertheless, Blanchester (5-1) will head into the playoffs guaranteed a home playoff game against either the Astros (2-4) or Madison Plains. If Blanchester keeps winning, they would be at home until a potential matchup with top-seeded Roger Bacon.
Friday, Oct. 2, 2020
@East Clinton High School
Blanchester 28, East Clinton 14
B – Trenton Czaika 40-yard pass from Brayden Sipple (Bryan Bandow kick) 1:03
B – Gage Huston 10-yard pass from Sipple (Bandow kick) 8:11
B – Huston 2-yard run (Bandow kick) 2:46
B – Bryce Sipple 6-yard pass from Brayden Sipple (Bandow kick) 11:53
E – Jared Smith 6-yard run (kick failed) 9:51
E – Landon Runyon 32-yard pass from Smith (Smith run) 7:17
PLAYS: B 63, E 42. FIRST DOWNS: B 21; E 10. RUSHES-YARDS: B 27-113; E 21-26. PASSING YARDS: B 223; E 198. COMPLETIONS-ATTEMPTS-INTERCEPTIONS: B 19-35-0; E 10-21-2. TOTAL YARDS: B 336; E 224. PENALTIES-YARDS: B 8-71; E 9-58. FUMBLES-LOST: B 1-1; E 1-0.
Rushing (carries-yards): B Brayden Sipple 4-15; Gage Huston 21-98 TD. E Jared Smith 11-18 TD; Glenn Peacock 9-4; Brody Fisher 1-4.
Receiving (catches-yards): B Brody Rice 2-38; Colt Conover 5-28; Trenton Czaika 5-101 TD; Gage Huston 5-40 TD; Bryce Sipple 1-6 TD. E Branson Smith 4-69; Landon Runyon 3-72 TD; Trenton Garen 1-41; Isaiah Conger 2-16.
Passing (completions-attempts-interceptions): B Brayden Sipple 19-35-0 223 yards 3 TDs. E Jared Smith 10-21-2 198 yards TD.
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @MattSextonPxP