The Tiger thoroughbred galloped his way right into the school record books Friday night.
McClone, a junior tailback, had a record-setting night to remember as the Tigers fought past an upset-minded Northridge squad for a hard-fought 35-21 Northern Lakes Conference win.
McClone ran over, through and past the Raiders all night long in piling up 322 yards on 35 carries. The amazing performance surpasses the old program standard of 310 yards rushing set by Brad Seiss versus Wawasee in 2000. Seiss went on to play at Ball State University.
McClone, for good measure, scored all five of the Tiger touchdowns as Warsaw broke loose from a 21-21 halftime deadlock to remain unbeaten in conference play and win its third straight game. The Tigers are now 4-1 overall (for the first time since 2005) and 3-0 in NLC action. Concord moved to 4-0 in league play by blasting Goshen 48-7 Friday night.
By the way, McClone had his incredible night while playing just the first three quarters of the contest against the winless Raiders. His five touchdowns tied Seiss, a 2002 WCHS graduate, for the single-game school standard.
“It’s nice to break it, but it’s better that we won this game,” said McClone of his record-setting effort. “It would have been meaningless if we had not won. I can’t thank all my teammates, my linemen, my quarterback, my receivers, my fullbacks, enough. My offensive linemen were incredible tonight.
“I’m so proud of how we responded in the second half. They played a heck of a ball game in the first half. At halftime, we said we’re better than this. We were flat the first half.”McClone ran wild all night long as the Tigers rushed for 359 yards. He scored on runs of nine, seven and one yard in a back-and-forth opening half. Northridge, behind the passing of junior Tanner Love, tied the contest just 12.5 seconds before intermission on a touchdown toss to Jailyn Rolle (his second of the opening half).
McClone ripped off the backbreaker in the third quarter. The Tiger defense came up with a stop at its own 23 on the Raiders’ opening possession of the second half. On the first play on the change of possession, McClone then broke free, jukes a couple of defenders and raced 77 yards to make it 28-21.
“That was probably my biggest play on a football field,” explained McClone about the 77-yard gallop. “I thought they had me at about the 30. One of them had the back of my foot there.”
McClone made sure to fire up his teammates just before the start of the second half. He gathered them in the end zone and basically said there was no way they were going to lose the game with a couple of well-place adjectives thrown into his short, but effective, pep talk for emphasis.
“I wanted my teammates to trust me,” said McClone of his words at intermission. “I want to lead by example. I’m usually not much of a talker, but I thought it was important then to get my teammates involved.”
Northridge, which finished 0-10 a year ago, led 7-0 as Love hit Rolle for a 27-yard scoring strike on a fourth-and-17 play in the opening period. Warsaw, which went three and out to open the game, answered right back. A three-play, 45-yard drive, which saw Austin Head fire a 25-yard toss to Taylor Cone as a key play, culminated with a nine-yard run by McClone for a 7-7 tie.The Tigers took a 14-7 lead early in the second stanza on a seven-yard run by McClone. That score came after the Warsaw defense stopped the Raiders at the Tiger 27. Northridge then got an 80-yard kickoff return by Jerry Burciaga to set up a two-yard run by Travis Schlabach to tie it at 14-14. Warsaw led 21-14 on a one-yard score by McClone. The Raiders then went 70 yards in the final minute of the opening half to forge a 21-21 tie.
“Get better,” responded Warsaw coach Phil Jensen when asked what was said at halftime in the Warsaw lockeroom. “I talked to them. Northridge is a scrappy, well-coached group and they had a great plan and executed it to near perfection in that first half and caused us fits. Give them credit. They were ready to go.
“But, we fought through adversity and won ugly tonight. Our defense made adjustments in the second half (coach Kris Hueber did a great job) and they didn’t have time to throw. Our offensive line and Tristan took over. Tristan is working hard and doing what we ask of him. Everyone did what they had to tonight in the long run.
“I’m not interested in records, but I am interested in record as in we got another win tonight.”
McClone added an eight-yard touchdown run in the final seconds of the third period for some insurance. He then sat out the entire fourth quarter. McClone, who rushed for a total of 101 yards on 25 carries a year ago, has been the man for the Tigers. The shifty, strong, 5-11, 200-pounder now has already amassed 1,018 yards on 157 carries with 12 touchdowns through the first five games.
The Tigers got tremendous play up front along the offensive line Friday night from the likes of Stuart Wagner, Cameron Shepherd, Austin Lampkin, Chris Dausman and Jorge Carrillo.Warsaw’s defense was lights-out in the final half Friday night. Leading the way was Zach Shepler as the senior spent most of the night in the Raider backfield. The Tigers, after making a key adjustment up front at halftime, sacked Love four times in the second half and shut down the Raider passing attack that gave them fits in the opening two quarters.
Warsaw (4-1, 3-0) hosts Goshen (1-4, 1-2) and Northridge (0-5, 0-3) plays at NorthWood (2-3, 2-1) in NLC contests next Friday night.