LONDON — With backup running back Dalton Cunningham rushing for 173 yards, Madison-Plains pulled away in the second half en route to a 58-25 win over East Clinton Saturday in a Div. V Region 20 playoff game at MPHS.
The win puts the Golden Eagles in the second round at Blanchester 7 p.m. Saturday.
East Clinton will continue its regular season 7 p.m. Friday at Hillsboro.
After a Jared Smith rushing touchdown early in the third period cut the Plains lead to 20-19, the Golden Eagles went on a scoring spree. With Cunningham and Ryan Ernst leading the way, the Golden Eagles scored 30 unanswered points and put the game away.
“That got away from us quick,” EC head coach Steven Olds said after the game. “We’re disappointed for sure.”
And maybe even better, believe it or not, after Kosta Xenikis went out of the game. Xenikis was the starting running back and scored on the first play from scrimmage on a 65-yard jaunt. He ran four more times for just nine yards before exiting with an injury.
“No. 6 (Cunningham) killed us,” Olds said. “I thought they were better with No. 6 back there. They were tough.”
After pulling within one in the third, thanks in large part to a long pass play from Jared to Branson Smith, East Clinton seemed to have things going its way. The Astros rushed for 106 yards on 16 carries in the first half.
The Eagles put together a nice drive that ended with a Ryan Ernst one-yard touchdown run. Then Ernst intercepted a Smith pass to begin a downward spiral for the Astros. Cunningham made that turnover good with a 90-yard touchdown run. EC’s next possession ended in a blocked punt that resulted in another score by Cunningham to make it 36-19 and the Astros were floundering.
“Middle of the third quarter we had a couple things that didn’t go our way then we had a couple mistakes … we didn’t handle the adversity,” Olds said. “Our response wasn’t great.”
Two possessions later, Cunningham intercepted a Smith pass and returned it 47 yards for a score, 50-19
East Clinton, who had just 69 yards on 20 carries in the second half, picked itself off the mat and had a nice drive that ended with Smith hooked up with Isaiah Curtis in the end zone for a touchdown.
The Astros will have to regroup and finish out the three-game remainder of the season Friday night against Hillsboro.
“It’s definitely weird,” said Olds. “I think we’ve talked about this enough with our team that they’ve adjusted.”
Oct 10, 2020
@Madison-Plains High School
Madison-Plains 58 East Clinton 25
MP-Kosta Xenikis 65 yard run (Two-point failed) 11:42
EC-Branson Smith 13 yard pass from Jared Smith (Phillip Davis PAT) 10:07
EC-Branson Smith 2 yard pass from Jared Smith (PAT failed) 5:37
MP-Dalton Cunningham 1 yard run (Evan Coil run) 2:30
MP-Paul Bryant 1 yard run (Two-point failed) 8:43
EC-Jared Smith 5 yard run (PAT failed) 9:02
MP-Ryan Ernst 1 yard run (Ryan Ernst run) 4:20
MP-Dalton Cunningham 90 yard run (Ryan Ernest run) 1:37
MP-Dalton Cunningham 2 yard run (Dalton Cunningham run) 11:46
MP-Dalton Cunningham 47 yard interception return (Two-point failed) 8:27
EC-Isaiah Curtis 13 yard pass from Jared Smith (Two-point failed) 3:23
MP-Ryan Ernst 19 yard run (Chase Howland run) 1:10
PASSING: EC-Jared Smith 13-32-2, 170 yards; MP-Evan Coil 7-10-1, 123 yards
RUSHING: EC-Glen Peacock 22-87, Jared Smith 11-84, Brody Fisher 3-4; MP-Xenikis 5-74, Cunningham 13-173, Bryant 2-15, Coil 1-(-1), Ernst 7-52, Howland 1-0
RECEIVING: EC-Branson Smith 9-136, Jaden Singleton 1-2, Glenn Peacock 1-2, Trenton Garen 1-17, Isaiah Curtis 1-13; MP-Ernst 1-28, Hunt 3-79, Bryant 2-13, Cunningham 1-3
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wnjsports