Tate Erkenbrecher, Contributor
GREENFIELD — The highly anticipated season opener between the McClain Tigers and the Eastern Eagles kicked off on Saturday after being rained on Friday night.
The Tigers (0-1) fell to the Eagles by a 21-20 final in overtime, despite taking a quick 14-0 lead in the first quarter and ending the first half of play in a 14-14 tie.
During the first quarter, Eastern (1-0) revved up its running machine with Dillion Maddox rushing for 43 yards on just six carries while carrying his squad to the goal line. That’s where the Tigers’ defense came in clutch with a huge sack from Landen Eubanks for an eight-yard loss on third down. An incompletion from Eastern quarterback Wyatt Heinz gave the purple and gold the ball for the first time with 5:46 left.
10 seconds later, McClain quarterback Brayden Wright ripped off an 82-yard keeper for the first touchdown of the game and Braedon Bergstrom added the PAT to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 5:36 to go.
The Eagles then had one rush attempt for four yards before Heinz threw an interception to Eubanks, who returned it 34 yards for a touchdown, putting McClain ahead 14-0 after the first quarter.
During the second, the Eagles gained both of their touchdown opportunities from recovered fumbles. Logan Clemmons took the honors of the first touchdown by taking off for 61 yards to make the score 14-7 with 2:16 left. After the second fumble recovery by the Eagles, Maddox took off with 32 seconds left, rushing the ball 40 yards for a score, forcing a 14-14 tie at halftime.
The third quarter consisted of several penalties and an array of failed offensive tries. Maddox, Clemmons and the Eagles continued to push the running game but couldn’t take advantage of their opportunities in the third.
During the fourth, McClain had hopes of taking the lead after Matt Bliss took the ball for a huge gain, but a penalty pulled the ball back to the line of scrimmage and McClain failed to take its first lead since early in the first quarter.
Penalties continued to be an issue for the remainder of the fourth and the Tigers’ defense kept Eastern from moving the ball, forcing a stand-still heading into overtime.
In the extra time frame, Maddox battled for a touchdown to give Eastern a 21-14 lead. But McClain quickly scored to make it 21-20. When the time came, the Tigers elected to go for two points and the win. That attempt was no good and the Eagles claimed a Week 1 victory.
Both teams will be moving into league play starting next Friday night on Sept. 4. Eastern will host Sciotoville East while the Tigers host Jackson.