The McLean County High School football team is currently ranked 2nd in the State in Class 2A after a 42-13 win over Todd County Central in their first district matchup this season. The Cougars stand at 5-0 for the first time since 1999.

McLean County rushed for 267 yards and four touchdowns. They went 4-6 passing for 94 yards and a touchdown. Evan Ward had two catches totaling 61 yards.

Zach Clayton led the Cougar offense with 87 yards and three scoring runs, including a 76-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown that set a new school record. Elijah Baldwin had 58 yards and two scores. Will Taylor had 54 yards on the ground.

Freshman Aden Bolden led McLean County’s defense with 11 tackles. Clayton and Ward each had eight stops on the night. Will Taylor had six tackles and Coby Dant added five. Ayden Rice also had five stops including a sack.

The initial kickoff went to the Cougars, but they soon found themselves at a fourth and nine position and set up to punt. Elijah Baldwin faked the punt and instead went around the outside for 18 yards and a first down.

Quarterback Brodie Cline took a keeper 15 yards and Clayton finished off with his first scoring play from the 22-yard line. A successful kick by Jacob Capps put McLean on the board 7-0 early in the first quarter.

The Rebel’s series ended with a punt. Clayton had a couple carries before Cline flipped it to Baldwin who took a few steps and launched a 24-yard halfback pass to Ward, bringing the ball inside the red zone.

Lucas Mauzy took it home from five yards out and another kick by Capps made it 14-0 with 1:53 left in the first.

Todd County got away and returned the next kickoff for a touchdown to put their first points on the board. McLean County got five yards off a reverse and Mauzy moved the chains on the next play.

Cline then completed a 20-yard pass to Clayton. The Cougars scored again with a 27-yard run from Clayton and Capps put it through the uprights to pad the lead 21-7 early in the second.

The Rebels scored on a pass play with 4:24 left in the half, but McLean County got right back to work to return the favor. Cline completed a pass to Ward who fought off tackles for a 37-yard gain.

With just seconds left, Cline sailed a 13-yard shot to Baldwin who zigzagged across the line. Clayton ran in the conversion and the Cougars were on top 29-13 at intermission.

The McLean County defense kept the Rebels away from the end zone for the rest of the game. Passes were defended by Ward, Baldwin and Bolden. Whit Searcy and Colten Free served up several tackles.

Baldwin recovered an onside kick. Ward delivered a tackle and stripped the ball to bring it back to the Cougars. Rice made a sack for a loss of three. Clayton caused a fumble in the end zone that resulted in a touchback and also returned another fumble recovery a 76-yard touchdown to make it 35-13.

Offensively, the home team kept after it in the second half. Cline completed another pass to Ward. Baldwin took a 35-yard scamper to the house near the end of the third quarter and Capps added another kick to bump the score 42-13.

The Cougars retained possession for nearly all of the final quarter. Bolden and Clayton both had a couple double-digit runs. Taylor busted up the middle, spinning off tackles for a 29-yard gain. Cline handed off to Baldwin who gave it to Taylor on a reverse for a 21-yard run. Time ran out and McLean County sealed the win 42-13.

“Our defense played a very good game,” stated Defensive Coordinator Justin Cook. “We only gave up one defensive touchdown and held them to just over 200 yards total. They were big & physical which gave our guys some problems, but our line was able to correct it & put some drives together.”

The Cougars will be on the road to Butler County on Friday, Sept. 23. The game will be a District 2 matchup between two undefeated teams. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

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