JACKSON – On the first football Friday night that finally felt like fall, the McClain Tigers traveled to Alumni Stadium in Jackson to take on the undefeated Ironmen. Jackson came into the game off of a 35-15 drudging of perennial powerhouse Wheelersburg in week five.
McClain won the toss and elected to defer to the second half. Jackson’s Evan Spires fielded Braeden Bergstrom’s bouncing kick at the sixteen yard line with a knee down for no return. Jackson would rely on a mix of runs from Jayden Spires and Brice Parks to drive 84 yards over the first three and a half minutes of the game. The drive culminated in a nine yard touchdown on a jet sweep around the left end by Garrett Daily to put the Ironmen on the board first. Isaac Kuhn’s point after try was good and Jackson took a 7-0 lead to start the game with 8:37 remaining in the game.
McClain’s Nate Terrell would field the ensuing kickoff and return it for five yards to the McClain 21 yard line. From there McClain’s offense would take over. The Tigers would string together a solid drive behind strong running from Blake Gall who carried for 21 yards on the opening drive. After losing tailback Matt Bliss to injury, the Tigers faced a crucial 3rd and 19. Sam Faulconer would fake a hand off and find Nate Terrell down the right side of the field. Terrell hauled in a tremendous catch and found enough yardage after the catch to get the first down and keep the Tiger drive alive. The Tigers would push all the way to the Jackson 25 yard line where they would be forced into a 4th and long situation. Braeden Bergstrom and the field goal unit took the field and Bergstrom nailed the 42 yard field goal under duress to bring the score to 7-3 Jackson. With just 8.4 seconds remaining on the clock, the first McClain drive ate up 8:33 seconds of game play. Coach Jake Orr-Zody was pleased with the first quarter effort, “we played the first quarter just how we wanted. Answered their score with a score.”
On the ensuing kickoff Jackson’s Evan Spires fielded the ball and returned it 28 yards to the Jackson 32. On the very next play, Jackson quarterback Jared Icenhower handed to Brice Parks who weaved his way 68 yards for an Ironmen touchdown. Kuhn was again good on the point after attempt, bringing the score to 14-3 Jackson. McClain’s next drive would begin at the 24 yard line after a short return by Terrell. The McClain drive would end quickly with a fumble that was scooped up by Jackson’s Jacob Winters at the 26 yard line. Winters would sprint down the sideline and into the endzone for another Jackson touchdown. Kuhn was good again on the point after bringing the score to 21-3 Ironmen.
“After we made it 7-3, we made some costly mistakes that they were able to capitalize off of. It was a tale of two quarters in the first half. Once they got the momentum in the 2nd we were unable to answer,” stated Coach Orr-Zody after the game.
The second quarter continued to trend in Jackson’s favor as McClain’s next drive would end in a four and out. With the ball on the 21 yard line Bergstrom lined up to punt and sent the ball sailing to the 45 yard line where it was received by Jackson’s Evan Spires. Spires broke two tackles then careened down the sideline with a caravan of blockers, cruising into the endzone for another Jackson score. After Kuhn added the point after, the score stood at 28-3 Ironmen.
The next McClain drive also ended in a punt. This time Jackson would go to the air with Icenhower finding Daily wide open in the endzone for a 25 yard score. After Kuhn’s PAT the score was now 35-3. The next Tiger possession also ended in a punt that Jackson would go on to capitalize on through the air,
with Icenhower this time finding Tristan Prater who would run his way into the endzone for a 50 yard score, extending the Ironmen lead to 42-3.
After another Bergstrom on punt on the next drive, the Ironmen would run their two minute drill to drive the ball down the field from just over 50 yards out. A long play was stopped inside the 10 by the Tigers as time expired on the first half clock but a post play penalty on McClain allowed the Ironmen one untimed down to finish the half. Jackson elected to send on the field goal unit, and Isaac Kuhn was good from 19 yards out to bring the score at the end of the first half to 45-3 in Jackson’s favor.
The Ironmen were able to add two more touchdowns in the second half as both teams’ second units took the field. Jackson’s Joe Richison found the endzone from 23 yards out, and bruiser Dillon Skeens rumbled for a five yard score of his own.
After the game Coach Orr-Zody reflected on his teams performance, “They’re a really good football team. We were able to execute our gameplan in the first quarter, then the wheels kind of fell off there in the 2nd. We needed to respond better and they are too solid of a team to make mistakes against. We have to execute and hold on to the football next week. That starts with our fundamentals and getting back to work on our execution this week,”
From a statistical standpoint the Tigers were able to muster only 142 yards of total offense. Blake Gall led the Tigers on the ground with 16 carries for 40 yards, Landen Eubanks carried three times for 33 yards. Quarterback Sam Faulconer ran the ball 11 times for 14 yards and was 2/7 passing for 35 yards. Both Nate Terrell and Tanner Van Dyke had one catch each for 20 and 15 yards, respectively.
Jackson ran the ball 22 times for a total of 275 yards and three touchdowns. Brice Parks led the Ironmen with three carries for 81 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Jared Icenhower ran the ball two times for 48 yards and was 4/7 passing with 90 yards and a touchdown. Backup quarterback Jacob Winters was 2/2 passing for 70 yards and a touchdown. The Ironmen totaled 525 yards of total offense and also added a defensive touchdown as well as a special teams touchdown.
The McClain Tigers move to 2-4 on the year, 0-1 in the Frontier Athletic Conference. The Tigers will host Miami Trace next Friday in their second game of league action. Kickoff will be at 7:00 at McClain Field.