MANSFIELD — Eastmoor Academy coach Jim Miranda was hoping running back Tahje Brown would be able to provide a spark.
The Warriors were a week removed from scoring zero offensive points in a 14-0 first-round playoff win over Urbana, a game in which Brown only played defense because of a sprained knee.
On fourth-and-3 from Clyde’s 5-yard line on Friday, Nov. 11, Brown’s number was called. He cut left, bounced off two tackles and fell over the goal line for a Warriors’ second-quarter lead.
Any reservations about his injury, which forced him to miss the final two regular-season games, were put to rest, and Eastmoor held on to defeat Clyde 14-12 in a Division III, Region 10 semifinal at Arlin Field.
“He’s a big-play kid and team leader, so when he got going early on we just kept feeding it to him,” Miranda said.
Brown, who finished with 19 carries and 96 yards, did not start and only had four carries through the first four possessions. But he got the nod to begin Eastmoor’s final drive of the first half, courtesy of a Khalil Hairston interception.
With a short field, Brown gained 23 yards on four carries before a quick breather, followed by his touchdown run.
“When my adrenaline is running I feel like a new man,” Brown said. “I felt good throughout the week and wasn’t going to let my knee hold me back.”
Eastmoor (10-2) opened the second half with an 11-play, 60-yard drive capped by a 2-yard dive by Davonte Butler for a 14-0 lead. David Valdez put the Warriors in Clyde territory with a 34-yard pass to Jalen Crosby. Brown gained 12 more yards and on third-and-goal from the 3, Clyde was called for offsides to set up Butler’s run.
Clyde (9-3), which totaled just 20 first-half yards, altered its game plan and rallied in the second half, but could not manufacture the running game that it is accustomed to.
“It’s a different world when you get into the second round,” Clyde coach Marc Gibson said. “You can have a powerful offense and score a lot of points but sooner or later you’re going to run into some very good athletes.”
In the third quarter Clyde’s Ryan Meyer scored on a 1-yard run to conclude a 76-yard drive. The extra point was good, but a dead-ball offsides penalty on Eastmoor nullified the play. Clyde’s ensuing point after was blocked.
In the fourth quarter, Brad Smith, who finished the season with 2,180 rushing yards, finally broke loose off tackle for a 19-yard touchdown run with 7:43 remaining. The two-point conversion attempt pass failed, and Eastmoor took the next five minutes off the clock before Valdez threw an interception at Clyde’s 2-yard line.
Terrell Hudson answered on defense with an interception near midfield, and Eastmoor ran out the clock. Smith was limited to 48 rushing yards on 17 carries.
“Our whole goal was to be physical and contain (Smith). Their whole run-scheme is to run off-tackle and we were ready for it,” Miranda said.