Braylon Robertson
Picture of Carson Francis

Carson Francis

Carson is an aspiring journalist and a student at Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. He's a lifelong fan of all things Reds, Bengals and Buckeyes, and has seen the game through the eyes of a player, fan and reporter.

Explosive plays, stout defensive effort lead Paint Valley past McClain

The Bearcats are back in the win column.

Carson Francis, Contributor

Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.

BAINBRIDGE — After years of hiatus, the Battle of State Route 41 between Paint Valley and McClain was renewed Friday night — and certainly, no love was lost. 

However, fueled by a strong running game, the Bearcats (2-1) had too much firepower and handed the Tigers their first loss of the season … a 29-15 final in non-conference action. 

Paint Valley’s Preston Fauber celebrates a touchdown in the first half of the Bearcats’ win over McClain on Friday.
CREDIT: Marissa Spradlin/SOSA

“We knew going into this game that it would be a battle,” Paint Valley coach Corey Dye said. “I’m really proud of our defense. They kept us in it the whole game. We were able to make some adjustments at halftime and our guys were able to capitalize.”

McClain (2-1) made a statement to start the game.

Cam Medley returned the opening kickoff to Paint Valley’s 24-yard line, setting the Tigers up in prime position to take an early lead. After converting a long fourth down try to extend the drive, Drake Stapleton took a quarterback draw 12 yards to the house, putting the Tigers ahead 7-0 with 9:49 left in the first quarter.

Paint Valley wasted no time responding, though.

On the ensuing possession, Preston Fauber rolled to his left and found Bryson Dunham all by himself as the two connected for a 58-yard touchdown pass to tie it up at 7-7.

With both teams at a stalemate, one needed a spark to separate themselves, and it looked like McClain got just that with an interception from Kaden Penwell.

Near the end of the first, Penwell stepped in front of a pass and returned it to PV’s 8-yard line. But the Bearcats’ defense came up with a huge stop and forced a turnover on downs, keeping McClain off the board and the 7-7 tie intact.

PHOTOS: Images from Paint Valley’s win over McClain

That 7-7 deadlock lasted until halftime. But to start the third quarter, the Bearcats went on a long, methodical drive and capped it off with a two-yard touchdown run from Braylon Robertson to take a 14-7 lead.

“I feel like when we came in the locker room at half and talked. We focused up,” Fauber said. “We needed to fight back.”

It didn’t stop there, either.

With McClain moving into their territory, the Bearcats’ defense stepped up again and recovered a fumble at their own 19. Later, on the Bearcats’ next drive, Fauber did it on his own, taking a 53-yard keeper to the end zone and giving his team a comfortable 21-7 lead.

“It’s great to have a quarterback like [Fauber] in the backfield,” Robertson said. “He can run, he can throw, he can do anything and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

“We knew that we were going to have to rely on our run game,” Dye said. “Credit goes to our offensive line. They played lights out in the second half and that’s how we were able to run it so effectively.”

While Paint Valley carried that 14-point lead into the game’s final quarter, chaos was about to ensue.

Early in the fourth, A slew of penalties carried a McClain drive all the way to the Paint Valley 3-yard line. On 4th and goal, Stapleton’s pass to the end zone was intercepted, only for the ball to be stripped on the return and brought back into the end zone by Cade Sponcil for a touchdown.

A successful two-point try cut the deficit to 21-15.

The Bearcats were forced to punt on the following drive, setting up McClain in opposing territory. But again, faced with adversity, Paint Valley’s defense needed just one stop to extinguish the momentum. The unit got it by forcing a three-and-out to give their offense the ball back. 

“Our defensive coordinators do a great job,” Dye said. “We’ve got a really good group coaching our defense. We came in with a really good game plan and our guys executed.”

The offense then went back to work, chewing as much time off the clock as they could before Fauber called his own number, punching it in from a yard out on a QB sneak. On the two-point try, the signal caller did it his way yet again, extending the lead and pounding the nails in the coffin.

“We had a great week of practice. We came out here and we were ready to play,” Robertson said. “We were ready to hit and we were ready to be physical.”

Paint Valley opens SVC play next weekend, hosting Southeastern, while McClain looks to get back in the win column at home against East Clinton.

“The mindset is that we want to win the Gold Ball,” Dye said. “That’s been our goal from day one. Having that battle test is really going to prepare us for league play and help us start off 1-0 next week.”


Share this post