FAYETTEVILLE — A tired East Clinton defense came up with a huge stop late Friday night to help the Astros hold on to defeat Fayetteville 32-22.
On the 75th defensive snap of the game, Chase Lockwood’s sweep attempt on 4th and 4 was first met by Tristan Burkitt, then his East Clinton teammates, as the Astros stopped the Rocket drive with 3:11 remaining.
“That was a huge stop there at the end,” EC head coach Jeremy Yankey said.
East Clinton picked up a pair of first downs to run out the clock and secure the victory.
Fayetteville controlled the ball and the time of possession, but two critical first-half turnovers doomed the Rockets (4-3 overall, 0-2 in SBC-National).
After marching 56 yards to the East Clinton 19, the 13th play of the drive was the only pass of the drive. Quarterback Luke Wiederhold was intercepted by Branson Smith at the EC 9.
Five plays later, Todd Wedding was sprinting into the end zone to cap a 91-yard drive and give the Astros a 19-0 lead.
On the second play of Fayetteville’s next drive, running back Hunter Jester was stripped, and the Astros recovered.
This time it took eight plays for EC to cover the 38 yards. Brendan Jenkins finished the drive with a 7-yard run just inside the left pylon. East Clinton led 26-0 with 3:18 left in the half.
Fayetteville continued to push in the second half, drawing within 10. However, East Clinton came up with the huge fourth down stop that thwarted any potential homecoming night comeback.
After allowing the Rockets 75 offensive snaps and 24 first downs, Yankey hopes his team can increase its physicality on defense heading down the stretch of the SBC schedule.
“We’re starting to figure some things out,” Yankey said. “We’re a much better team than we were earlier in the year. There are still some games that we can win, but we’re going to have to play much better than we did tonight.”
Winners of three of its last four, the Astros (3-4, 2-0 in SBC-N) will host 7-0 Bethel-Tate in week eight with first place in the SBAAC National Division on the line.
“We’re the last two teams on our side of the division that’s unbeaten in division play,” Yankey said. “You’ve got a de facto league championship game next week, in essence.”
Oct. 6, 2017
@ Fayetteville High School
East Clinton 32 Fayetteville-Perry 22
EC – Brendan Jenkins 3-yard pass to Wyatt Floyd (Austin Arellano kick) 9:56
EC – Jenkins 10-yard pass to Floyd (run failed) 2:12
EC – Todd Wedding 14-yard run (kick blocked) 7:00
EC – Jenkins 7-yard run (Arellano kick) 3:18
F – Hunter Jester 2-yard run (run failed) 49.2
F – Luke Wiederhold 30-yard pass to Bowen Doane (Jester run) 6:46
EC – Wedding 14-yard run (run failed) 2:43
F – Seth Allen 1-yard run (Jester run) 7:48
PLAYS: EC 39; F 75. FIRST DOWNS: EC 16; F 24. RUSHES-YARDS: EC 32-221; F 69-259. PASSING YARDS: EC 99; F 44. COMPLETIONS-ATTEMPTS-INTERCEPTIONS: EC 4-7-0; F 5-10-1. TOTAL YARDS: EC 320; F 303. PENALTIES-YARDS: EC 4-16; F 5-36. FUMBLES-LOST: EC 2-2; F 2-1.
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bymattsexton