LEES CREEK — A 416-yard performance by the SBC’s second-leading passer was not enough for Fayetteville Friday night, as the East Clinton Astros held off the Rockets 35-27 on homecoming night at ECHS.
Levi Wiederhold completed 28 of 42 passes for 416 yards and four touchdowns. However, a costly interception to open the third quarter led directly to an EC score. And when his final pass found the end zone grass, the Astros had finished the victory.
East Clinton (4-3 overall, 1-1 in the SBC National Division) got the job done by playing keep away from Wiederhold and the Rockets by grinding out long drives on the ground.
The Astros had five drives of nine plays or more. Leading by two with 11:54 left in the fourth, EC embarked on a 15-play, 48-yard drive that took 7:50 off the fourth quarter clock.
Quarterback Jared Smith ended the drive with a one-yard run to put EC up 29-20 with 4:04 left.
After turning the Rockets over on downs, EC got a big insurance score when Isaiah Conger picked up his second touchdown of the night with 1:55 left. EC led 35-20.
“I thought we ran the ball when we wanted to,” EC head coach Steve Olds said. “I thought we did offensively what we wanted to do all night.”
Fayetteville (4-3, 0-2) wasn’t quite finished yet. Wiederhold completions of 14 and 40 yards moved the Rockets to the EC 1. Wiederhold found Blake Coffman to pull the Rockets within eight, 35-27, with 1:13 left.
Everyone knew what was coming next, in large part because Fayetteville had onside kicked most of the night. This was another good one for the Rockets, recovered by Damion Kistler at the EC 48.
On fourth and eight, Wiederhold used his legs to scramble for a first down to the EC 39. A pass to Jayden Bradshaw moved the Rockets to the Astro 19.
With 14 seconds left, Wiederhold hit Coffman again to the EC 7. On first and goal, Wiederhold’s pass was incomplete, and he was beyond the line of scrimmage.
The five-yard penalty gave Fayetteville one final shot from the 12 with 0.9 left on the clock. Wiederhold scrambled to his left and threw across his body just short of his receiver. The Astros declined a holding penalty on the Rockets, and the game was over.
The biggest difference in the second half was the amount of time Wiederhold had to throw. The Astros moved Isaiah Conger to defensive end, and he and his teammates consistently put pressure on the Rocket senior after halftime.
“We talked about that at halftime,” Olds said. “You can’t let that kid stand back there and throw the ball. If you give him time, he’s going to find the open man. We wanted to get pressure on him with the four down linemen. In the second half, we did a better job of that.”
After completing 16 of 20 passes in the first half (80%), Wiederhold completed just 12 of 22 in the second half (55%).
Meanwhile, his opposite number got the job done with his legs. Jared Smith rushed for 116 yards and three touchdowns. Conger finished with 124 yards and two touchdowns.
Wiederhold threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers. Three Rockets had over 100 yards receiving – Bradshaw (112), Kistler (103) and Coffman (103). Tyler Tipis had 71 yards receiving and a touchdown.
The EC win continues the streak of the two teams alternating wins since they became division rivals in 2017. The Astros, winners in 2017 and 2019, have won 3 of the last 5 meetings.
Friday, Oct. 1, 2021
At East Clinton High School
East Clinton 35, Fayetteville 27
EC – Jared Smith 6-yard run (Lukas Runk kick) 8:25
EC – Smith 7-yard run (Runk kick) 35.7
F – Levi Wiederhold 15-yard pass to Jayden Bradshaw (Dillon Cummings kick) 7:55
F – Wiederhold 30-yard pass to Damion Kistler (Cummings kick) 5:48
EC – Isaiah Conger 3-yard run (Conger run) 10:29
F – Wiederhold 2-yard pass to Tyler Tipis (run failed) 11:54
EC – Jared Smith 1-yard run (Runk kick) 4:04
EC – Conger 3-yard run (kick failed) 1:55
F – Wiederhold 1-yard pass to Blake Coffman (Cummings kick) 1:13
PLAYS: F 62; EC 59. FIRST DOWNS: F 24; EC 20. RUSHES-YARDS: F 19-48; EC 49-277. PASSING YARDS: F 416; EC 47. COMPLETIONS-ATTEMPTS-INTERCEPTIONS: F 28-43-1; EC 2-10-0. TOTAL YARDS: F 464; EC 324. PENALTIES-YARDS: F 8-75; EC 6-65. FUMBLES-LOST: F 1-1; EC 0-0.
Rushing (carries-yards): F Levi Wiederhold 13-30; Jayden Bradshaw 1-8; Chase Hendrix 1-6. EC Isaiah Conger 25-124 2 TDs; Jared Smith 16-116 3 TDs; Glenn Peacock 8-37.
Receiving (catches-yards): F Jayden Bradshaw 6-112 TD; Damion Kistler 6-103 TD; Blake Coffman 7-103 TD; Tyler Tipis 4-71 TD; Anden Doane 4-27. EC Landon Runyon 1-35; Jaden Singleton 1-12.
Passing (completions-attempts-interceptions): F Levi Wiederhold 28-42-1 416 yards 4 TDs. EC Jared Smith 2-10-0 47 yards.
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @MattSextonPxP.