LEES CREEK — Southeastern’s Tanner Stoops spoiled the season finale for the East Clinton Astros Friday night, rumbling for three touchdowns in the Trojans’ 23-14 win.
Stoops was the workhorse in an offense that largely ran between the tackles. Using misdirection through trap runs, Stoops amassed 283 yards and three touchdowns on 39 carries.
In total, the Trojans (4-6) rushed for 329 yards on 52 carries.
Despite running 20 more plays than the Astros (4-6), Southeastern miscues kept the Astros in the contest.
Leading 7-0, Stoops rumbled toward the end zone looking for his second score of the night. Just before he broke the plane, he fumbled. EC recovered in the end zone.
Four plays later, Jared Smith pulled EC within a point on a 59-yard touchdown run. The extra point was missed, and EC trailed 7-6 with 6:27 left in the first half.
Five plays into Southeastern’s next drive, East Clinton took the lead. Branson Smith picked off Wade Eriksen and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown. Following the two-point conversion, EC led 14-7.
Stoops’ second score of the first half with 46.9 left pulled the Trojans within a point at the break.
After attempting six passes in the first half, Southeastern threw it just one time in the second half. Out of 24 offensive plays, 23 were running plays.
Midway through the third quarter, Stoops scored again and tacked on the two-point conversion for good measure. It was 21-14 Southeastern with 6:06 left in the third.
East Clinton’s best drive of the second half followed as the Astros used up nearly the rest of the third quarter. EC got as far as the Southeastern 24, but the drive stalled after an interception on fourth and 15.
Southeastern was held to just one first drive on its first possession of the fourth quarter, but that was followed by a three-and-out for the Astros. The Trojans took over with 7:45 left at their own 40 and started grinding out yards and burning clock.
A 12-play, 55-yard drive by the Trojans burned 6:43 off the fourth quarter clock. East Clinton got the fourth down stop on the lone Southeastern pass of the second half, but the Astros took over on their own 5 with 1:02 remaining and just one timeout.
The EC drive lasted just one play. Jared Smith, in an attempt to avoid a certain sack in the end zone, threw the ball away. He was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, which gave the Trojans a safety and sealed the Trojan victory.
Jared Smith did the majority of the running for the EC offense, picking up 124 yards on 15 carries. He also threw for 59 yards, 48 of those going to Branson Smith in their final game together in high school.
Friday’s game was the first meeting between the former Kenton Trace Conference rivals since 2012. East Clinton defeated Southeastern on Sept. 7, 2012, 49-14. The Astros were looking for their first non-losing season since 2011.
Friday, Oct. 30, 2020
At East Clinton High School
Southeastern 23, East Clinton 14
S – Tanner Stoops 42-yard run (Austin Clayton kick) 4:54
EC – Jared Smith 59-yard run (kick failed) 6:27
EC – Branson Smith 48-yard interception return (Branson Smith to Brandon Zimmerman) 3:46
S – Stoops 4-yard run (run failed) 46.9
S – Stoops 5-yard run (Stoops run) 6:06
S – Safety, penalty in end zone, 51.9
TEAM STATS: PLAYS: S 59; EC 39. FIRST DOWNS: S 18; EC 9. RUSHES-YARDS: S 52-329; EC 24-163. PASSING YARDS: S 44; EC 59. COMPLETIONS-ATTEMPTS-INTERCEPTIONS: S 4-7-1; E 6-14-1. TOTAL YARDS: S 373; EC 222. PENALTIES-YARDS: S 5-45; EC 10-93. FUMBLES-LOST: S 3-2; EC 0-0.
Rushing (carries-yards): S Nick Harris 11-50; Tanner Stoops 39-283 3 TDs. EC Jared Smith 15-124 TD; Glenn Peacock 9-39.
Receiving (catches-yards): S Nick Harris 1-3; Duke McCombs 1-6; Austin Yoder 1-21; Chase Brown 1-14. EC Branson Smith 3-48; Landon Runyon 2-12.
Passing (completions-attempts-interceptions): S Wade Eriksen 4-7-1 44 yards. EC Branson Smith 6-14-1 59 yards.
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @MattSextonPxP.