The McLean County High School football team traveled to Grayson County on Sept. 3 to face another pack of Cougars. It was a battle between the big cats, with several touchdowns scored, but McLean County came up short, 49-30.

McLean County had 94 yards on the ground and went 6-for-15 in the air for 203 yards. Brady Dame caught all six passes and scored 26 of the points on the board for McLean. Lucas Mauzy was the lead rusher with 42 yards.

Zach Clayton led McLean in defense with 11 tackles. James Haerle, Elijah Baldwin, Wesley Wells, Will Taylor and Noah Coleman each added six stops. Landen Goodwin had two sacks, and Wells made one.

The initial kickoff went to Grayson County, but just a few plays into the game Dame put McLean County on the board when he returned an interception 80 yards for a touchdown. Grayson County answered back three minutes later and a successful kick put them up 7-6.

McLean County ended the next series with a punt by Haerle, and Grayson County scored again with 3:36 left in the first quarter. Another successful extra-point kick put them ahead 14-6, but McLean County fought hard on its next possession. Haerle went up the middle, taking several tackles for a gain of six yards. Mauzy busted through to move the chains and bring the ball to midfield, but possession was lost with a turnover on downs as the game rolled into the second quarter.

Grayson County struck again to jump out front 21-6 before Clayton returned the next kickoff 20 yards to spur the McLean County offense. Haerle bulldogged his way for a first down before Clayton moved the ball a few more yards. Mauzy took a hit and stretched out to plant the pigskin for another first down in Grayson County territory.

Quarterback Brodie Cline opened up with a 19-yard pass to Dame that he made a quick adjustment under pressure to catch. Dame was running downfield and had a defender right in his face as the ball came near; he quickly hit the brakes and turned around to snag the ball as the defender spun around looking lost. That successful catch brought the Cougars to the edge of the red zone with Mauzy and Haerle covering half the distance in the next two plays. Cline then made a toss to Dame for a touchdown from six yards out. Haerle added a successful conversion, and McLean narrowed the gap to 21-14 with 4:29 left in the half.

The McLean County defense buckled down in the next series with tackles by Cline, Mauzy, Clayton and Coleman. Grayson County made it to the eight-yard line before one of the sacks by Goodwin set them back a couple. A pass was then batted down by Baldwin, leaving Grayson with one final attempt. Grayson County made a successful field goal and ended the half with a 24-14 advantage.

The entire third quarter was a stalemate, with neither team hitting pay dirt. Grayson County scored early in the final quarter to jump out front 31-14, but McLean answered back in just one play with a pass and run from Cline to Dame for a 69-yard touchdown. Mauzy added the conversion, and McLean closed to within 31-22.

Grayson County crossed the goal line again with 6:52 left to play, but the McLean County defense prevented the kick with a block by Clayton, keeping the deficit at 37-22. Grayson County found the end zone soon after to pad the lead to 43-22 after the kick attempt bounced off the goal post.

McLean County set up on the 20 yard line after the next kickoff and scored on the very first play. Cline launched a 40-yard strike to Dame, who was under double coverage, but jumped up to snag the ball and take it home with another 80-yard scoring play. Dame caught the pass from Cline for the conversion, and McLean narrowed the gap to 43-30 with 5:37 left in the game.

Grayson County scored again about a minute later, but the kick attempt failed and the score was 49-30. Will Taylor returned the next kickoff 16 yards before Cline went to Dame again with another big pass. Cline was under heavy pressure on the throw, and Dame was covered up again by two defenders, but Cline managed to pull off the 26-yard pass. McLean County was gaining momentum and just inside the red zone again, but time ran out, and Grayson took the win.

“Grayson was more physical up front and very aggressive on the edges,” McLean County head coach Zach Wagner said. “We got our passing game going and were able to throw for over 200 yards. We will try to correct our mistakes and work on shoring up our defense this week in preparation for Muhlenberg.”

The Cougars will host Muhlenberg County at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10 at Paulsen Stadium.

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