At McClain field Friday night, in week 7 of high school football, the Tiger boys of fall hosted the visiting Miami Trace Panthers. With the outside temp in the mid-60s and a large crowd from both schools in attendance, the atmosphere was set for high school football under the lights!
The Tigers entered the game at 2-4 and looking to rebound off last week’s loss to Jackson.
The Miami Trace Panthers brought a record of 4-2 into the contest and looked to continue their winning way after defeating Hillsboro in week 6.
The game opened with the Tigers receiving the kickoff from #87 Justin Shoemaker of Miami Trace and going nowhere on their first set of downs. #8 Braeden Bergstrom’s first punt came at just before the 10:00 min mark of the first quarter. The Panthers answered on their opening drive with several running plays which was capped off with authority on a nice thirty-one-yard touchdown run by sophomore #17 Jayden LeBeau for the first score of the game. With the extra point going through, at 9:43 of the first, Miami Trace lead 7-0.
After the game Panther head coach Jerry Williams commented on their game plan and complimented his offensive line opening up running lanes for LeBeau and company.
“Well, he [LeBeau] is certainly a special player but we have an awesome front line that really works well with him. They are led by three seniors up there that do a fantastic job and really allow a kid like LeBeau to exploit his talents. So, we certainly want to give credit where credit is due and if they give him a little crease, he will take advantage of it that’s for sure. As far as our game plan today, our plan was to get out and spread the field out a little bit but we were just kind of hurting ourselves, so we had to just kind of knuckle down and just try to get back to the middle and take over in the middle and that’s what we focused on in the second half.”
Shoemaker’s booming kickoff was fielded by the Tigers deep in their own end and the McClain offense put together a nice string of plays, steadily progressing the ball down the field. Greenfield’s #5 Sam Faulconer finally got it inside the 10-yard line at just past the 6 min mark. Three plays later, Tiger QB #2 Braden Wright kept the ball and ran it in for the one-yard score. Bergstrom’s extra point tied the game at 7-7 and the game was on!
Coach Jake Orr-Zody talked about the enthusiasm of his team, the emphasis from the coaching staff to compete every week and the momentum shift after the score.
“When we scored, absolutely we’re jacked up! Obviously, we know it’s anyone’s ball game, but we just want to keep competing. Give credit to our kids for that. I think they did that from start to finish they knew it was anyone’s game. Whether it’s play calling or how we practice or having guys ready, we have to be ready to compete. We had some nice sustained drives tonight but once we got around midfield and maybe we only got a first down or two. We have to find ways not to shoot ourselves in the foot and have negative plays and continue to lean on them and manufacture yards when we can.”
Bergstrom booted it on the kickoff to the Miami Trace 35-yard line and the Panthers took over with 4:44 left in the first. Their first running went for 15 yards however a holding penalty called the play back and they restarted the drive with a 1st and 20 from the 25-yard line. LeBeau took the handoff on second down for 10 yards and #30 Skylar Mitchell added another 12 yards for a first down. After a short pass to the Greenfield 42-yard line, LeBeau grabbed the handoff and blasted his way through the Tiger defense for 42 of his 212 yards for the night and his second touchdown of the game. Shoemaker’s extra point made it 14-7 for the Panther lead with 2:48 to go in the first.
The Tigers would take over on their own twenty after the touchback on the kickoff. Three short runs and an offsides penalty set them up with a 4th and 1. Coach Orr-Zody lined his offense up and told them to pick up the first down from the 39-yard line. After a hard count by Wright, the Panthers jumped offsides, gifting the first down to the Tigers to start the second quarter and keeping the drive alive. After a couple short gains, the Tigers once again found themselves facing a fourth down on the 50-yard line. Coach Orr-Zody again elects to go for it and Wright’s pass was true to #21 Nate Terrell for five yards for the first down. The third time was not a charm however, as the blue-collar drive ground to a halt after a holding penalty on the offense and an incompletion on yet another fourth down saw the Tigers turn the football over on downs. Miami Trace took over at their own 42-yard line.
The snap to the Panthers’ QB, #3 Dalton Mayer, was crisp and his receiver’s route was perfectly executed as he winged the ball out to the right to #9 Joshua Gilmore. Gilmore streaked down the right side all the way to the McClain thirteen before he was pushed out of bounds, a 40-yard pass and catch. With first and ten from the thirteen, Miami Trace was unable to capitalize on the big play and they quickly faced fourth down and, after an unsuccessful run, found themselves turning the ball back over on downs to the Tigers with 3:46 left to go in the first half.
McClain could not muster the offense as they took over at the seven-yard line with three quick running plays and a punt to the Panthers’ 47-yard line.
Likewise, the Panthers mimicked the Tigers’ drive with their own three and out, trying a reverse on third down with no luck. Shoemaker’s punt sent the ball to the other end of the field and the Tigers took over with :48 sec left in the first half but were unable to move ball far enough downfield for a score. The first half ended with the Panthers still leading 14-7.’
Miami Trace received the second half kickoff and came out a little rusty, committing two penalties on the drive and eventually coughing up the football on a smashing tackle by the Tiger’s #35 Alex Snyder on the Miami Trace pass receiver. Greenfield took over at their own 42-yard line with 10:01 on the clock in the third quarter. They were not able to cash in on their good fortune though, taking only four plays to punt ball back to the Panthers at their own 15-yard line.
Big runs by LeBeau moved the ball quickly downfield to the Tiger’s 6-yard line where, again, Miami Trace fumbled the ball, giving it back to the Tigers as they finally recovered the errant lateral toss on their own 27-yard line. Again, the turnover by the Panthers was wasted as McClain’s Wright ran for three consecutive plays without reaching the first down, forcing Bergstrom to punt the ball away. This time a short kick gave the Panthers the ball at the Greenfield 49-yard line and with 3:19 left in the third #35 Austin Carpenter ran the ball in from the 23-yard line for the third Panther touchdown of the game. Shoemaker’s point after try was on the mark and the score advanced to 21-7, Panther’s lead.
Good defense by both teams in the final quarter saw hard tackles, sacks, punts and turnovers on downs. The Tigers were forced to go to the air as time ticked down to try and right the score but in the end were unsuccessful. As time ran out the Miami Trace Panthers claimed the win with the final score of 21-7.
Miami Trace Coach Williams reflected on the win after the game and the support of the community,
“This is a great community and the community really supports their football. We want to give them a good product out there and we are getting there. You know, I’ve been here three years, the first year one win, the second year two wins, now we’re sitting at five wins and 2-0 in the conference, so we’re in a good position right now.”
The Miami Trace Panthers will host the Jackson Ironmen next Friday at Panther Field. The win puts the Panthers with a record of 5-2 and 2-0 in the conference.
Given the opportunity to think about his team’s loss, Coach Orr-Zody praised his defense but expects more from his offense.
“We have to find ways to capitalize. Our defense played way too well tonight for our offense only sustain drives. We have to find ways to score and make plays when we have opportunities.”
The Tigers will travel to Chillicothe next week for a league matchup against the Cavaliers. McClain moves to 2-5 on the year and 0-2 in the league.