LEES CREEK — In a game befitting of many cliches — “whoever blinks first,” “the last team to have the ball,” “the team that makes the fewest mistakes” — East Clinton emerged with a regular-season, non-conference 21-6 victory over McClain Saturday morning, a game postponed from the previous evening because of weather.
“It’s never easy. It’s another one of those weeks where we overcame some adversity, kids being out, to hang in there and get the win,” EC coach Steve Olds said. “I think, a few years ago, I’m not sure that we would have hung around that way to take care of business that way at the end of the game. So I think they’re growing. We’re proud of them.”
Astro quarterback Jared Smith accounted for all three EC scores. He finished with 62 yards passing and one touchdown, and 141 yards rushing and two scores. On defense, he had an interception and a fumble recovery.
He got his team on the board first with a 24-yard run four minutes before the intermission. That came three plays after McClain muffed a punt that EC recovered at the Tigers 32 yard line.
Smith found Trenton Garen in the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 5:20 left in the contest to give the Astros a better cushion, 14-6. That score came one drive after McClain signal-caller Braden Wright sprinted 67 yards to paydirt, only to have it negated by a holding penalty. The drive ultimately resulted in a three-and-out.
Smith sealed the game three minutes later with an interception at Astro 36 and then a 53-yard touchdown run two plays after that.
“He’s a tough guy. I think our kids feed off that. He’ll stick his nose in there. He’s playing both sides of the ball as our quarterback right now and today he played linebacker,” Olds said about Smith. “When Jared’s going, we’re going. That’s kind of how things go. He’s one of those kids. The guys follow him.”
For East Clinton, Maddix Crowe had a fumble recovery as did Isaiah Curtis.
McClain had a chance to draw first blood late in the opening quarter after recovering an Astro fumble at the East Clinton 32 yardline. The Tigers went backward thanks to a personal foul penalty and a sack, but caught a break when EC roughed the kicker on a 47-yard field goal attempt. The Tigers advanced to the EC 9 yardline before another fumble.
The Tigers finally scored on their first drive of the second half on a Wright 2-yard run. The score came immediately following an interception. McClain, however, missed the extra point.
“We just have to play better, control us and do more of the little things right. It was a game that could’ve gone either way. It was tight ball game. If we clean up some things and execute better, and don’t have penalties and mental mistakes, we have a chance of winning today,” McClain coach Jake Orr Zody said.
East Clinton (4-5) continues its regular season at 7 p.m. Friday by hosting South Charleston Southeastern. McClain (0-8) will host Zane Trace.
Oct. 24, 2020
East Clinton 21 McClain 6
GM — 0060 — 6
EC — 07014 — 21
EC – J. Smith 24 run (Davis kick), 4:04.
GM – Wright 2 run (Kick failed), 7:07.
EC – Garen 10 pass from J. Smith (Davis kick), 5:20.
EC – J. Smith 53 run (Davis kick), 1:22.
Shawn Robinson covers high school sports for the News Journal in Wilmington. Follow him on Twitter @twinzdad01.