The McClain Tigers kept their home crowd on the edge of their seats until the final moment of the game on Friday night as they hosted South Central Ohio League opponent Washington. The Tigers continued their progression that fans have seen all year, giving the Blue Lions a run for their money but ultimately fell short with a final of 35-27 after four quarters of play.
Washington hit the Tigers twice in the first quarter before McClain could get a score of their own. Washington’s Aaron Greer and Kyle Garrett both scored on running plays but a failed point after on the first touchdown shorted them one point and it was 13-0 with 4:24 to play in the first.
McClain’s Alex Hollar has been a force to be reckoned with all season and Friday night was no exception.
The first scoring drive for the Tigers was all Hollar as he ran a total of 63 yards ending in a one-yard, untouched dive into the endzone, to put the Tigers on the scoreboard 13-7.
McClain forced Washington to punt on their next drive and the Tigers started their next drive on the 25 yard line.
McClain marched the ball down the field with some help of a jumpy Washington defensive line, which got called for offsides three times during the series, but the drive stalled on the Blue Lions’ 19 yard line with an incomplete pass and the Tigers turned the ball over on downs.
After getting the ball after the Tigers stalled drive, the Blue Lions went to the run game which was hard for McClain to stop all night.
The drive started with a 17 yard run then Aaron Greer pounded the ball for another nine. A big run by the Blue Lions down the side lines took the ball into Greenfield territory and ended with what looked to be a fumble by Washington. The referees called the runner down but Tigers coach Jeremy Andrews disagreed and made it known resulting in a unsportsmanlike penalty that took the ball down to the 14 yard line for Washington.
The Blue Lions used that to their advantage and stuck with the running game and three plays later, Aaron Greer blasted his way through a hole for a two yard pickup and another Washington touchdown to make it 20-7 with 1:24 left to play in the half.
McClain got the ball for their next drive on the 44 yard line after a good return and took only two plays to punch the ball into the endzone for themselves. A pass to Randall Mischal for 16 yards set up the next pass which went to Alex Hollar who then ran it all the way to the house for a 40 yard gain and a Tigers touchdown. That made the score 20-14 with 1:01 to go.
Washington made it known that they weren’t done for the half either.
After getting some good field postion on the kickoff, CJ Taylor ran the ball 39 yards for another Blue Lions TD to make it 27-14. Washington went for the two point conversion which started as a disaster. The snap was botched and ended up 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage. QB Taylor scrambled back and scooped the ball up and then made a few Tigers miss and heaved a pass towards the endzone, which was caught to make the score 28-14.
The first play for the Tigers after the kickoff was intercepted but fortunately, time expired and both teams went to their locker rooms with the score at 28-14 in favor of Washington.
McClain wasted no time getting back on the scoreboard after the half.
On the first play, Tristan Pitzer kept the ball and ran it for six yards. On second down, the Tigers handed the ball off to Hollar who ran it 59 yards for a touchdown but the play was brought back after the holding penalty and the next play started from the 28 yard line.
Hollar was handed the ball again and, like he had done all night, picked up a big chunk of yards, 22 of them, to take the ball back to midfield and a Tigers first down.
The Tigers took advantage of Hollar’s big night on the next play and faked the hand off to him while Pitzer kept it himself and sprinted down the sidelines for a 50 yard pick up and made the score 28-21 with 10:31 to go in the third quarter.
Washington gained 43 yards on the ensuing kickoff to set themselves up nicely for their next score as some good ground game and costly personal foul penalties on the Tigers resulted in another touchdown, this one a two yard run by CJ Taylor to make it 35-21.
That touchdown would be the last one for the Blue Lions.
McClain scored to start the fourth quarter with a 71 yard run by Alex Hollar and made Washington worry a little bit, bringing the game to 35-27. McClain needed only a touchdown and two point conversion to tie the game.
Late in the fourth quarter, it looked as if Washington would be able to just run the clock out but a fumble that was recovered by McClain put the Tigers in range of a chance to take the game into overtime.
The Tigers were out of timeouts but used good clock management, running the ball out of bounds and spiking the ball once to take themselves down to the nine yard line with nine second to go. They tried passing on first down but t fell incomplete, draining three five off the clock. The next pass fell incomplete again and the Tigers were left with just four tenths of a second to run their last play. Having no choice but to go to the air again, they threw the ball. At the very last moment, the Blue Lions deflected the pass and it fell incomplete and the Tigers fell 35-27.
“I’m ecstatic with the guys hard work tonight,” said Tigers coach Jeremy Andrews after the game. “We shot ourselves in the foot in the first half after messing around with the ball too much but the guys came back out in the second half and won the half. We have some good players on this team and that has been the exciting and also frustrating thing about this team. We would have liked to have won this game tonight but the guys took a couple big steps forward tonight.”
The Blue Lions are now 4-4 overall and 3-2 in the SCOL as McClain drops to 0-8 overall and 0-5 in the league. They will host East Clinton next Friday night who lost Friday to Hillsboro with a final of 18-7.
Reach Robert Stegbauer at 937-393-3456 ext. 1679 or on Twitter @RStegbauer.