SCIOTOVILLE — As the clock ticked down in East’s win over Green, the Tartans were all business. They went through the handshake line and ran to the north end zone to touch the Tartans’ list of SOC I championships like it was any other game.
It was all business until the team met at the Ax and Shield at midfield. Finally, the Tartans could turn their attention to the game they’ve had circled on their schedule all season long.
Bring on the Valley Indians.
“They’re already past this [win], and we’re ready to go shock the world,” East head coach James Gifford said.
The Tartans (4-0, 1-0 SOC I) will go into next weekend’s matchup at Valley undefeated after besting Green 52-16 on Friday evening at Allard Park.
“They’re good. They’re a team that’s good enough to win this league,” Green head coach Ted Newsome said.
Green (1-3, 0-1 SOC I) won the toss and elected to receive to begin the game, but the East defense was having none of it. The Tartans forced a fumble on the Bobcats’ first play from scrimmage, recovered by East’s Jacob Hatcher.
It took the East offense a few plays to get going. A tackle for loss, a fumble and a false start penalty put the Tartans in a third-and-30 situation on the 38 yard line.
But it took just one play for East to get all that back – and get in the end zone. Quarterback Drew Lowe found J.D. Hatcher streaking up the far sideline for a long touchdown pass to give the Tartans a 7-0 lead.
East found the end zone on its next play from scrimmage, this time on the ground. Akia Brown took a handoff around the edge and turned on the burners, scoring from 38 yards out.
Brown finished Friday’s game with three rushes for 65 yards and two touchdowns — all in the first half.
After the Tartan D forced Green to go four-and-out, East’s Zane Scott joined the touchdown party with a 38-yard touchdown run on the second play of the ensuing drive. After just over five minutes of game time and six Tartan offensive plays, East held an 18-0 lead.
Just before the end of the quarter, Brown added his second touchdown of the evening on his second carry to make it 26-0.
East continued to pour it on the second quarter. Ethan Gifford scored on a 63-yard touchdown run, and a drive later, Ethan Carver took in from 18 yards out to make it a 40-0 score at halftime.
Those 63 yards from Gifford went a long way toward making him the Tartans’ leading rusher. He finished the game with 90 yards on three rushes and two touchdowns.
“I think going into this game, I think he had 15 yards total for the season,” Gifford said.
Though the Bobcats could not find the end zone in the first half, their offense seemed to find a bit of a rhythm. Green recorded 28 rushing yards in the quarter, and picked up two first downs – their first of the contest.
The Tartans picked up right where they left off to begin the second half. Hatcher took a line-drive kick from the 45 yard line and took down to the Green 22. Gifford took it from there, scoring on the first play from scrimmage to give East a 46-0 lead.
“That’s what we were trying to do in this game was mix it around,” Gifford said. “It feels good to know that we got some other guys that we can go to.”
After Dushaun Martin made it 52-0 with a 22-yard touchdown run, Green finally cracked the scoreboard. They pieced together a seven-play, 46 yard drive thanks to solid blocking up front and hard running from quarterback Alex Hughes and Wyatt Blevins. Blevins broke through the line for a 12-yard rush, and Darnell found the end zone a play later from nine yards out to put the Bobcats on the scoreboard.
The Bobcats doubled their points early in the fourth quarter when Darnell broke free for a 60-yard rush up the gut. He finished job two plays later when he scored from eight yards out. Blevins added his second two-point conversion of the night to cut the deficit to 52-16.
Darnell finished as the team’s rushing leader with 12 carries for 108 yards and two touchdowns.
“Anything we can do that’s positive and we can hang our hat on, we’ll hang on to,” Newsome said. “Our kids kept playing. Bottom line, it showed them that we’re still in there competing.”
With the win, the Tartans are 4-0 for the first time since 2007, when East finished 10-0 in the regular season on their way to an SOC I championship. Now, the Tartans will begin preparing for one of their biggest non-conference games in recent history.
“Play Tartan football,” Gifford said when asked what the keys were to next week’s game. “Have good attitude and effort and play Tartan football, and see what happens.
“They’re the Valley Indians, we’re the East Tartans. We’ll see who the better team is.”
The Bobcats will take the field again next Friday when they travel to Symmes Valley.
East — J. Hatcher 41 yd pass from D. Lowe (PAT failed) (6-0) (10:08)
East — A. Brown 32 yd rush (PAT failed) (12-0) (7:55)
East — Z. Scott 38 yd rush (E. Gifford PAT) (19-0) (5:00)
East — A. Brown 21 yd rush (E. Gifford PAT) (26-0) (1:13)
East — E. Gifford 63 yd rush (E. Gifford PAT) (33-0) (7:55)
East — E. Carver 18 yd rush (E. Gifford PAT) (40-0) (2:51)
East — E. Gifford 22 yd rush (PAT failed) (46-0) (10:53)
East — D. Martin 22 yd rush (PAT failed) (52-0) (7:50)
Green — T. Darnell 9 yd rush (Blevins 2 pt conv) (52-8) (2:18)
Green — T. Darnell 8 yd rush (Blevins 2 pt conv) (52-16) (7:05)
Passing — Green: A. Hughes 1-2-6; East: D. Lowe 3-3-94.
Rushing — Green: T. Darnell 12-108, W. Blevins 11-33, A. Hughes 5-14, B. Derifield 1-1, T. McClain 7-1, W. Mollet 1-(-2); East: E. Gifford 3-90, A. Brown 3-65, Z. Scott 2-46, D. Martin 1-28, K. Callahan 6-23, E. Carver 1-18, D. Stevens 2-14, R. Hunicutt 3-14, D. Lowe 3-5, D. Wilson1-3.
Receiving — Green: T. McClain 1-6; East: J. Hatcher 1-41, Z. Scott 1-33, D. Martin 1-20.
Green 1-3 (0-1 SOC I); East 4-0 (1-0 SOC I).
Reach Alex Hider at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter