Defense, not so much in the 55-35 McCallie win.
The McCallie Blue Tornado blew through the Cleveland defense for 527 yards while the Blue Raiders’ Austin Herink picked the McCallie secondary apart for 514 yards in an offensive display.
Cleveland’s D.J. Jones and Parker Smith wer the main Herink targets on the night. Both receivers grabbed seven tosses with Jones racking up 127 yards and Smith 107.
Cleveland coach Ron Crawford said it is not the kind of offensive fight the Blue Raiders need to be involved in.
“We can’t get in those battles,” he stated. “We have to improve defensively. I’ve got to take responsibility for the plan; we didn’t execute our plan. Obviously, there needs to be a better plan next time out. It wasn’t an effort thing, it was more of an execution thing.”
The Blue Tornado rang up 21 first quarter points to Cleveland’s 14. McCallie took a 7-0 lead on its opening drive, but the Raiders quickly answered after a Herink to D.J. Jones connection for 78 yards put Cleveland on the McCallie 2-yard line. Herink covered the final two yards for the first Cleveland score of the season.
The Blue Tornado took a 14-7 lead on their next possession. After missing a chance to go up by 14 on a 76-yard punt return that was called back after an illegal block, McCallie made up for the miscue with a four play drive to go up 21-7.
The Raiders once again found the end zone late in the quarter when Herink hooked up with Tyler Davis on a 70-yard touchdown pitch and catch with 3:04 remaining.
Cleveland missed a 23-yard field goal on its first possession of the second quarter and the Blue Tornado made the Raiders pay with an 80-yard drive to go up 27-14 after a missed extra point. McCallie squandered a chance to add three points as the first half ended when a 39-yard field goal attempt fell short.
“We had three other opportunities to score. We missed a field goal and then get down in scoring position and can’t stick it in,” Crawford observed.
The Blue Tornado opened the second half with an 80-yard drive to take a 33-14 lead.
This time, the Blue Raiders put together a 65-yard drive to cut it to 34-21. Another Herink to Jones pitch and catch covered 24 yards for the score.
McCallie was flagged for a double personal foul on the extra point attempt, setting up the Cleveland kickoff at the Blue Tornado 30. An offside call against Cleveland moved the Blue Raiders back to the 35. McCallie finally set up shop at its own 20 only to fumble three plays in with Cleveland’s Kimsey Bell falling on the loose leather.
From there, Herink hit Parker Smith for a 21-yard touchdown pass on the first play to cut the McCallie lead to 34-28.
The Cleveland momentum lasted exactly 17 seconds. McCallie’s Jeffery Coleman took the ensuing kick and raced 94 yards to put the Tornado back up by 12. McCallie went up 48-28 after scoring on its next possession.
The Blue Raiders put together a final scoring drive after setting up on their own 20-yard line. Herink passes to Eric Goodwin covering 20 and 15 yards kept the chains moving. Passes to Davis and Smith sent the Raiders into the fourth quarter at the McCallie 32. Smith hauled in a Herink pass to the Blue Tornado 4-yard line and Davis completed the drive with a leaping catch in the corner of the end zone to make it a 48-35 game.
McCallie then took two plays to go 62 yards for the final score of the night.
“No, but I thought we’d put up a little more resistance than we did,” said Crawford when asked if he expected anywhere near 90 points between the two teams. “There is no doubt we were worried about it. It took us a long time to prepare for it. It is a unique offense, they really tempo it up. They did a great job on us tonight, you have to take your hat off to them. We’ve got work to do.”
“You should have an opportunity to win (when you score 35 points). But, tonight we needed 56. Some nights we will need 14. You’ve got to do what you need to do to win,” he continued. “We needed a stop. They fumbled twice and got on it then made big plays and it didn’t happen for us. We’ve got to go back to work and figure this thing out and continue to try and improve our program.”
Next up for the Blue Raiders will be a road trip to Cookeville. Crawford said it is the only game Cleveland needs to be concerned about right now.
“We’ve got one game, we’ve got Cookeville. I told them what we’ve got to worry about next is the Blue Raiders and our next opponent,” he said.
MCCALLIE 55, CLEVELAND 35
McCallie 21 6 21 7 — 55
Cleveland 14 0 14 7 — 35
M — Andrew Busby 1 run (Peter Phillips kick), 7:09
C — Austin Herink 2 run (Oscar Galvan kick), 5:35
M — C.J. Fritz 71 pass from JaVaughn Craig (Phillips kick), 5:05
M— Alex Trotter 3 run (Phillips kick), 3:04
C — Tyler Davis 60 pass from Herink (Galvan kick), 1:37
M — Craig 2 run (kick failed), 3:52
M — Spencer Morgan 44 pass from Craig (Phillips kick), 9:32
C — D.J. Jones 25 pass from Herink (Galvan kick), 6:49
M — Jeffery Coleman 96 kickoff return (Phillips kick), 5:25
M — Busby 9 run (Phillips kick), 2:29
C — Jones 2 pass from Herink (Galvan kick(=), 11:39
M — Carig 2 run (Phillips kick), 11:22
First Downs 26 16
Rushes-Yards 17-28 49-233
Passing 294 486
Total yards 527 514
Comp-Att-Int 15-19-0 29-43-0
Punts-Avg. 4-36 0-0
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 3-1
Penalties-Yards 5-50 3-20
Rushing: Alex Trotter 19-127 (M). Passing: Craig 15-19-0, 294 (M); Herink 29-43-0, 486 (C). Receiving: Morgan 7-159, Fritz 6-111 (M); Jones 7-127, Smith 7-107 (C). Records: McCallie 1-0; Cleveland -01.