The Rotary Bowl is officially back in the McClain Tigers’ hands after a exciting 35-27 win over Hillsboro on Friday night.
Both teams came out of the gate ready to play, as both showed off their offenses early and often. McClain got the upper hand in the quarter as their offense scored on every possession for a total of three touchdowns and 20 points. Hillsboro was close behind, scoring on all but one of their three series.
For McClain it was a 44 yard touchdown run by Alex Hollar, a 66 yard TD run by Tristan Pitzer, and a 46 yard run by Hollar again.
For Hillsboro, their first drive stalled on third down and they were forced to punt on fourth down but the punt bounced off a McClain players foot and was recovered by Hillsboro which gave them a first down. Heith Brown finished off the drive with a six yard run to the endzone, untouched. The other touchdown for the Indians was a 64 yard pass from Hunter Chain to Ryan Hagan to make it 20-13 at the end of the first quarter.
The bulk of the next series for the McClain Tigers was in the first quarter, but the touchdown came in the second.
The Tigers started on their own 36 and they went to the ground game for the duration of the series.
Gabe Adams started off the drive with two runs of four and six yards for a first down and Hollar followed those up with a four yard run of his own. Gabe Adams was handed the ball again on second down where he picked up one yard. Hollar was called on again on third down, but was only able to pick up four more yards as the clocked wound down to zero and the Tigers started the second quarter in a fourth down situation.
McClain handed the ball to their go-to runner on the night, Alex Hollar, who ran for 292 yards in the game, and he picked up the first down and a few more with a six yard run. One first down Hollar was called on again and this time he found a hole and broke free for a 39 yard touchdown run which ended in a facemask penalty on Hillsboro which was tacked on to the kickoff. The Tigers went for the two-point conversion and that made it 28-13 in favor of McClain.
Hillsboro was able to answer back rather quickly scoring on their next drive ending with a quarterback keeper by Chain to bring the score to 28-19 McClain.
McClain threatened again on their next drive, getting the ball all the way down to the one yard line but were stopped on fourth down by the Indian defense as time expired and the two teams went into the half with McClain up 28-19.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, although the Indians threatened twice but McClain forced turnovers on both drives. The first was a fumble recovered by McClain and the second was a sack of Hunter Chain by Alex Hollar which forced the ball to come lose and was pounced on by Randall Mischall.
McClain capped their total in the fourth quarter with a one yard TD run by Alex Hollar to make it 35-19 which left Hillsboro down by two touchdowns and a two point conversion after each with just 8:58 left on the clock.
Hillsboro did score again with a touchdown pass to Ryan Hagan and a successful two-point conversion, also caught by Hagan, with 2:40 to go, but the onside kick on the kickoff afterwards was not successful and McClain ran the clock out and took home the 35-27 win over their rival Hillsboro and brought the Rotary Bowl trophy back to their school.
Alex Hollar who has led his team in rushing almost every game, ran for 292 yards in the game which brought him to 1355 yards on the year. Tristan Pitzer added 119 yards to the rushing total on the night and Gabe Adams pitched in for 38.
For Hillsboro, Heith Brown led the charge in the ground game with 87 yards and Hunter Chain tallied 56. Chain also threw for 202 yards on the night, 152 of which was to Ryan Hagan and 42 to Britton Haines.
“I wouldn’t say this was all-around good game,”McClain coach Jeremy Andrews said after the rivalry win. “We still need to do a better job of throwing the ball and pass protection, but when you have a guy run for almost 300 yards, he can help overcome those limitations. Defensively, we came up with stops when we needed them again. Defensively and offensively it was a pretty good game. I would have liked to have been a little more diverse on offense but, again, when you have a guy run for 292 yards, I think that will usually work.
“Even though we had a couple guys with big rushing numbers tonight, I don’t want to forget about my big fellas. They’ve been moving the line a little bit this season. I was really proud of how our senior linemen stepped up and kind of brought the win home for us.
“You see a lot of teams go out there and spin their wheels and they don’t improve on a week-to-week basis. Give our guys a lot of credit, they have learned how to practice and the results show. As the season has gone along we’ve gotten a lot better and that’s the point of this.”
The McClain Tigers finish the season with a 2-8 overall record and 2-5 in the South Central Ohio League, while Hillsboro comes away from the season with a 3-7 overall record and finish 2-5 in the SCOL as well.
Reach Robert Stegbauer at 937-393-3456 ext. 1679 or on Twitter @RStegbauer.