MERCERVILLE, Ohio — Simply put, Justin Crager was a one-man gang Friday night.
The senior quarterback accumulated 364 of the visiting Tartans’ 402 total yards of offense and scored every single Sciotoville East point en route to a 36-28 victory over South Gallia in a Week 1 non-conference contest in Gallia County.
The Tartans (1-0) relied heavily on Crager, who rushed 38 times for 355 yards and five touchdowns overall in the first-ever contest at the new Rebel Stadium. Crager had 21 of the Tartans’ 24 rushing attempts in the second half, including 17 straight touches over the final 16:29 of regulation.
That constant feeding of the ball to Crager in the second half resulted in four touchdowns and 30 points, which allowed Sciotoville East to break away from a six-all tie and secure the season-opening victory.
The host Rebels (0-1) never led in the contest, as the Tartans put up the first score of the night in the first quarter. Crager capped a 7-play, 85-yard opening drive with a five-yard scamper for a 6-0 lead with 7:02 remaining.
The score remained that way until the 6:17 mark of the second period, as Landon Hutchinson gave SGHS its first-ever points at the new stadium with a six-yard run to paydirt. Hutchinson’s historic score capped a 9-play, 74-yard drive and knotted the game up at six headed into the half.
With the defenses starting to tighten up in the second half, East decided to go the distance with its big gun. Crager first of 17 straight carries came at the 4:29 mark of the third quarter, when he plunged in from six yards out to cap a 6-play, 47-yard drive for a 12-6 edge. Crager added a successful 2-point conversion run to give the guests a 14-6 advantage.
Following an interception by Taylor Appling to start the fourth, the Tartans put together an 8-play, 71-yard drive that gave the guests their biggest lead of the night at 22-6. Crager capped the drive with a 23-yard scoring run and a two-point conversion run with 7:28 left in regulation.
The Rebels, however, responded with a 7-play, 65-yard scoring drive that cut the deficit down to eight after Jacob White plunged in from a yard out for a 22-14 contest with 4:50 remaining.
On the first play from scrimmage after the ensuing kickoff, Crager rumbled 71 yards to paydirt to give East a 28-14 edge with 4:36 remaining.
The Rebels answered with a 6-play, 78-yard drive on its next possession, which resulted in points after Hutchinson scored on a run from two yards for a 28-20 contest with 2:54 left in the game.
East looked like it drive the final nail in the coffin at the 1:25 mark, as Crager capped a 3-play, 57-yard drive with a 48-yard scoring run — giving the guests a 36-20 advantage.
Ethan Spurlock, however, took the ensuing kickoff 80 yards to the house, allowing the hosts to pull back to within a possession at 36-28 with 1:14 left in regulation.
SGHS failed on its ensuing onsides-kick attempt, East ran two plays to gain a first down and then took two kneel-downs to wind out the clock.
The Rebels amassed 359 yards of total offense in the setback, including a ground effort of 207 yards on 45 carries. SGHS had 152 passing yards and claimed an overall advantage of 19-16 in first downs. The hosts also committed the only two turnovers in the contest, including one mistake that led to eight Tartan points.
Hutchinson led the Rebels with 84 yards on 24 rushes and also went 7-of-16 passing for 152 yards and one interception. White added 75 rushing yards on 10 totes, while Spurlock had 10 carries for 48 yards.
Kane Hutchinson led the SGHS wideouts with 71 yards on three grabs, while White hauled in two passes for 34 yards, Jared Northup (42) and Brandon Campbell (5) also added a reception apiece.
The Tartans accumulated 393 rushing yards on 46 attempts and also went 1-for-5 passing for nine yards. Crager’s lone completion went to Mark Miller. Chad Haddox also had five carries for 27 rushing yards and Anthony Haney had three tries for 11 yards.
Both teams were penalized six times in the contest. East gave up 30 yards of real estate on fouls, while the hosts surrendered 45 yards overall.
Jacob Fields recorded two sacks for the Rebels, while Tyler Gerald had two sacks for the guests. Crager also recovered a South Gallia fumble on the opening play of the second quarter.
The Rebels return to action Friday when they travel to Racine for a TVC Hocking matchup against Southern at 7:30 p.m.