GREENFIELD — Two critical fourth-down stops followed by long touchdown runs by Braden Wright helped McClain to its first 3-0 start in eight years.
The Tigers quarterback ran for 266 yards and three touchdowns in McClain’s 34-13 victory over previously-unbeaten East Clinton Friday night.
It was a fairly even matchup between the former South Central Ohio League rivals. East Clinton (3-1) had an early 7-0 lead and was driving for a second score.
East Clinton drove to the McClain 33. On fourth down, a dropped pass stalled the Astro drive.
On the first play of the ensuing drive, Wright rumbled 67 yards to tie the game.
The Astros responded by marching to the McClain 14 on the next drive before failing on fourth down for the second time.
However, East Clinton forced a three and out and would retake the lead on its next possession. Jared Smith converted a third and two into a 28-yard touchdown run. East Clinton led 13-7 at the half.
McClain took the lead for the first time on its first possession of the third quarter. A 46-yard Wright run moved the ball inside the EC 5. Wright finished the drive with a three-yard scoring run. McClain led 14-13.
East Clinton was stopped on fourth down for the third time on the ensuing drive at the McClain 43. Eight plays later, Andrew Potts finished off a Tiger drive with a 3-yard score. McClain led 21-13 over the Astros with 1:54 left in the third.
The fourth quarter opened with another long Astro drive. EC moved the ball to the McClain 26. Facing another fourth down, the snap rolled past Smith. He picked it up and threw it to an open receiver, but it was dropped.
For the fourth time, the Astros had been stopped on fourth down. On the next play, Wright again called his number and took it to the end zone. The 74-yard touchdown gave McClain a 27-13 lead with 9:12 left.
In addition to Wright’s outstanding night, Potts had 77 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. McClain rushed for 353 yards on 34 carries.
Jared Smith led EC with 143 yards rushing and 82 yards passing with two total touchdowns. Isaiah Conger finished with 63 yards on 14 carries.
Penalties played a significant factor in the game as well. EC was penalized 12 times for 135 yards, while McClain was flagged for just four penalties covering 20 yards.
The three wins to start the season is the most wins McClain has had in a season since 2013 when the Tigers went 4-6. That was also the last time McClain opened 3-0 before losing the next six in a row. McClain will look to make it a 4-0 start at Shroder next week.
East Clinton will look to rebound in week 5 against Minford. That game has been pushed back one day to Saturday, Sept. 18, at ECHS.
Friday, Sept. 10, 2021
At McClain High School
McClain 34, East Clinton 13
EC – Jared Smith 16-yard pass to Landon Runyon (Lukas Runk kick) 3:57
M – Braden Wright 67-yard run (Emerson Yates kick) 9:54
EC – Smith 28-yard run (kick failed) 0:48
M – Wright 3-yard run (Yates kick) 9:51
M – Andrew Potts 3-yard run (Yates kick) 1:54
M – Wright 74-yard run (kick failed) 9:12
M – Potts 9-yard run (Yates kick) 6:04
PLAYS: EC 58; M 38. FIRST DOWNS: EC 13; M 13. RUSHES-YARDS: EC 40-215; M 34-353. PASSING YARDS: EC 82; M 0. COMPLETIONS-ATTEMPTS-INTERCEPTIONS: EC 9-18-1; M 0-4-1. TOTAL YARDS: EC 297; M 353. PENALTIES-YARDS: EC 12-135; M 4-20. FUMBLES-LOST: EC 3-1; M 1-1.
Rushing (carries-yards): EC Jared Smith 19-143 TD; Isaiah Conger 14-63; Glenn Peacock 5-22. M Braden Wright 13-266 3 TDs; Andrew Potts 16-77 2 TDs; Trevor Stonerock 1-3; Owen Sykes 1-3; Kaden Penwell 1-2; Aaron Dhume 2-2.
Receiving (catches-yards): EC Adran Baker 2-30; Landon Runyon 2-23 TD; Isaiah Conger 1-16; Jaden Singleton 3-13. M – None.
Passing (completions-attempts-interceptions): EC Jared Smith 9-18-1 82 yards. M Braden Wright 0-4-1 0 yards.
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @MattSextonPxP.