By Bill Liermann
LEES CREEK — After a slow start, both teams offenses kicked it in to high gear Friday when McClain visited East Clinton for a South Central Ohio League battle at ECHS.
And while it was a matchup of two teams at the bottom of the league standings, the game was full of thrilling plays and plenty of scoring.
In the end when the dust had settled, East Clinton had its first win of the year, a 33-27 triumph over McClain.
“It was a great effort,” said EC head coach Jeremy Yankey. “The kids really deserve it. The 42 kids in that lockerroom really did a great job tonight. It’s been a long hard year for us but tonight everything came together.”
The win is the first for the Astros this season. They are 1-8 overall and 1-5 in the league.
The victory was the first in the SCOL since a 25-22 win over McClain Oct. 17, 2014. East Clinton had lost 14 straight SCOL games since that win.
“The kids blocked well, we defended well at times and we executed the game plan,” said Yankey.
McClain drops to 1-8 overall and 0-6 in league play.
The game seemed to turn early when East Clinton’s defense snuffed out a McClain fake punt and put the ball in the hands of the Astros’ offense.
Austin Hanners capped the drive with a two-yard plunge to paydirt and EC led 6-0 with 7:48 to play in the second quarter.
East Clinton halfback Anthony Osburn sucked in the McClain defense on an apparent running play then threw a pass to Wyatt Floyd from the 44 for a touchdown. Floyd ran in the two-point conversion to make it 14-0 with 4:32 to go in the second quarter.
East Clinton’s Tristan Hall recovered a McClain fumble on the next possession and the EC offense made good on the turnover.
Brendan Jenkins, the EC signal-caller, hooked up with Floyd on a 24-yard scoring play to make it 20-0 East Clinton.
The Tigers responded on the next play as Tristan Pitzer went 95 yards on the ensuing kickoff to cut the EC lead to 20-7. Camden Yates had the PAT for the Tigers.
McClain continued battling and Gabe Adams reached the end zone on a 51-yard bolt and with the extra point it was suddenly a 20-14 ballgame.
East Clinton went back up by double digits when Osburn connected on a halfback pass with Aaron Livingstone from 28 yards out. Austin Arellano’s PAT made it 27-14 EC.
Osburn had 27 rushing attempt for 141 yards as well as two touchdown passes.
“We felt we had to come up with a little trickery, some things that they probably weren’t prepared for,” Yankey said of the halfback passes..
The Tigers responded. Adams again found those 50 numbers to his liking as he went 55 yards for a touchdown and it was back to a six-point McClain deficit, 27-21.
The back and forth battle waged on as the Astros scored on a Floyd to Joey Gray 29 yard pass play. The Tigers blocked the extra point kick but EC led 33-21 at the end of the third quarter.
Adams reached the end zone for a third time in the game when he scored from 12 yards out with 4:12 to play in the game to cut the difference back to six at 33-27.
East Clinton picked up a big first down when Floyd went eight yards on a reverse to move the chains and keep the clock rolling with 2:38 to play.
The resilient Astros converted a fourth down play when Cameron Conner caught a pass at the McClain 25 to get the first down and seal the win for East Clinton.