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Paint Valley wins ‘Battle of 41’ over McClain 

The Highland County Press - Staff Photo - Create Article
McClain linebacker Cade Sponcil #51 races to the goal line after stripping the ball from a Paint Valley player who had made an interception. (HCP Photos/Jim Jones)
Stephen Forsha, The Highland County Press

BAINBRIDGE — The first installment of the inaugural “Battle of 41” on Friday night saw the Paint Valley Bearcats defeat the visiting McClain Tigers, 29-15, becoming the first team to hoist the newly awarded trophy following the Week 3 win. 

The score was tied 7-7 at halftime, and in the second half Paint Valley outscored the Tigers, 22-8 to gain the non-conference win, improving to 2-1 overall this season. The loss drops McClain to 2-1 overall. 

The Tigers were first to reach pay dirt with quarterback Drake Stapleton rushing 12 yards to the end zone on first-and-12 for six points. The PAT by Seth Weller put MHS ahead 7-0 with 9:49 left in the first quarter. 

Paint Valley answered two plays later as quarterback Preston Fauber found Bryson Dunham for a 60-yard touchdown through the air. The PAT was converted by Braylon Robertson for a 7-7 score. 

Both teams were scoreless in the second quarter, but in the third the Bearcats opened the second half with a 13-play drive that went 86 yards, resulting in a touchdown run of two yards by Robertson with 6:26 left on the clock. He also kicked the PAT for a 14-7 score. 

That aforementioned drive also saw one of McClain’s top players – Kaden Penwell – injure his ankle with 7:04 on the clock, and he didn’t return to the game. 

The Bearcats scored their third touchdown with 4:42 left in the third quarter as Fauber rushed 53 yards to the end zone on a QB keeper, going around the Tigers’ defense for six points. The PAT by Robertson was good for a 21-7 lead. 

In a wild turn of events on fourth-and-goal for McClain in the early stages of the fourth quarter, the Tigers threw an interception caught by Gavin Kingery of Paint Valley, only to see McClain’s Cade Sponcil strip the ball away and take the ball to the end zone for the Tigers with 11:39 left in the fourth quarter. Andrew Potts rushed the ball into the end zone for a 2-point conversion for a 21-15 score. 

The final touchdown of the game came with 2:41 left in regulation as Fauber raced to the end zone for six points on third-and-goal from the 1-yard line. The 2-point play was good as Fauber reached the end zone again, putting the Bearcats ahead by 14 points at 29-15. 

McClain also had two first-quarter interceptions, with one by Eikenberry coming with 4:45 left in the quarter and another by Penwell with 1:07 remaining.