GREENFIELD — Leading by 6 in the final seconds of the third quarter, East Clinton found itself in the shadow of its own end zone.
Following an outstanding McClain Tiger punt, East Clinton started from its own 5 in a series that would likely swing the momentum of the game.
Over the next 7:07, the Astros covered 95 yards in 14 plays to seal a 28-14 victory over McClain.
After rushing for just 31 yards on 15 carries in the first half, East Clinton rushed for 70 yards on the game-clinching drive. The final 5 yards were by quarterback Brendan Jenkins, his fourth total touchdown on the night.
“To go 95 yards in 14 plays, that’s just tremendous,” EC head coach Jeremy Yankey said. “That’s us starting to believe what we can do. We had some good things happen that hopefully will give these kids confidence and belief.”
Leading 14-12 midway through the third quarter, an ill-timed McClain special teams gamble swung the momentum to the Astros.
Following a third down holding penalty, followed by a loss of six, McClain faced fourth and 23 from its own 35. Punter Camden Yates faked the punt, running around the right side. He got just eight yards and EC would take over on the McClain 43.
Yankey predicted before the game his team would give the McClain punt unit fits. He was proved correct.
“We game-planned all week; we thought we could block their punts,” Yankey said. “We did the first one. Then they thought they were going to catch us off guard. I called ‘base’ because I didn’t want to come after another one.
“We were really rushing hard off their right edge, so they tried to fake it around the left edge. We were sitting there waiting on them.”
Eight plays later, the Astros (1-3) had their first lead of the night. Jenkins ran it in from 15 yards away and added the two-point conversion. EC led 20-14.
McClain answered, picking up two first downs before facing fourth down from its own 48. Yates connected on a fantastic punt, which was downed at the EC 5 with 14 seconds left in the third.
East Clinton faced third down twice on the 95-yard drive, and each time it was followed by a fourth and one. Each time, Jenkins called his own number. First, he gained five, then 14.
Two plays after the final fourth down conversion of the drive, Jenkins was in the end zone, and the Astros led 28-14 with 5:07 left.
After struggling earlier in the season with finishing drives with touchdowns, the Astros succeeded against McClain.
“That’s something we’ve talked about ever since week two,” Yankey said. “The Batavia game, we moved the ball, didn’t cash in. The Hillsboro game, moved the ball well, didn’t cash in. Second half, we cashed in.”
Jenkins finished with 85 yards rushing, 152 yards passing and four touchdowns. Patrick Dotson caught just two passes, but they went for 83 yards and two scores.
For McClain (0-4), Darius White finished with 128 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown. Quarterback Justin Osborne completed 6 of 8 passes for 118 yards and a score.
Sept 15 2017
@McClain High School
East Clinton 28, McClain 14
M – Justin Osborne 37-yard pass to Landree Gray (Camden Yates kick) 7:11
E – Brendan Jenkins 63-yard pass to Patrick Dotson (kick failed) 3:57
M – Darius White 51-yard run (Yates kick) 2:55
E – Jenkins 20-yard pass to Dotson (pass failed) 11:02
E – Jenkins 15-yard run (Jenkins run) 4:20
E – Jenkins 5-yard run (Jenkins run) 5:07
PLAYS: E 51; M 44. FIRST DOWNS: E 16; M 15. RUSHES-YARDS: E 38-166; M 36-172. PASSING YARDS: E 152; M 118. COMPLETIONS-ATTEMPTS-INTERCEPTIONS: E 10-13-0; M 6-8-0. TOTAL YARDS: E 318; M 290. PENALTIES-YARDS: E 2-10; M 5-40. FUMBLES-LOST: E 0-0; M 1-0.
Rushing (carries-yards) E Brendan Jenkins 20-85 2 TDs; Wyatt Floyd 1-9; Luke Hanners 2-8; Todd Wedding 13-40. M Justin Osborne 3-(-3); Darius White 19-128 TD; Camden Yates 1-8; Patrick Fout 6-25; Tanner Tite 6-27.
Passing (completions-attempts-interceptions) E Jenkins 10-13-0 152 yards 2 TDs. M Osborne 6-8-0 112 yards TD.
Receiving (catches-yards) E Austin Rolfe 2-43; Floyd 5-27; Hanners 1-(-1); Patrick Dotson 2-83 2 TDs. M Landree Gray 1-37 TD; Eric Anderson 2-32; White 1-12; Richie Everhart 2-37.
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bymattsexton.