ANDERSON — For the first time this season, a football game was played in football weather. A light rain was coming down as Anderson kicked off its senior night against McCutcheon and the longer the game wore on, the worse the conditions became — including a wintry mix as the second half began.
Those weather conditions favored the ground attack of the Mavericks far more than it favored the air assault from Anderson.
Lane Clevenger rushed for over 200 yards and three touchdowns as McCutcheon broke open a close game at halftime and defeated Anderson 48-16, spoiling the Indians' senior night.
Anderson finished the regular season at 2-9 and hosts Greenfield-Central (0-9) in sectional semifinal play Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. McCutcheon improved to 7-4.
Anderson was able to move the ball in the first half largely on the strength of senior Xander Stokes' right arm. But costly penalties and turnovers stalled or ended drives, and McCutcheon cashed in early.
Mavericks quarterback Peyton Williams capped an eight-play, 52-yard drive with a 3-yard keeper to put the visitors on the board first at 6-0 with 6:41 left in the first quarter.
After the teams exchanged punts, it was Clevenger who got McCutcheon back on the board with a 29-yard touchdown run on the final play of the first quarter and a 13-0 lead.
Earlier in the quarter, Stokes came up limping after taking a shot on the sideline and was visibly hobbled the rest of the game. He still managed to complete 18 of 34 passes for 185 yards but had no completions in the second half.
"He got hit pretty hard in the first quarter," Anderson coach Ron Qualls said. "He got hit in the thigh, and from that point forward, he really wasn't himself. He couldn't plant in the pocket, and he couldn't sprint out."
McCutcheon took advantage of a Stokes interception early in the second quarter as Garrett Maish scored on an 8-yard run for a 20-0 lead.
The Indians fought back, however, and it was the defense that scored first.
A bad snap into their own end zone forced Williams to fall on the ball and gave Anderson a safety, credited to Kadin Johnson.
The Tribe took the ensuing free kick and drove 58 yards on eight plays, scoring on a 28-yard pass from Stokes to Octavous Anderson on a fourth-and-25 play and cut the deficit to 20-9.
But the second half became a different game in the changing conditions. Neither team completed a pass, but the Mavericks controlled the game on the ground.
Maish and Clevenger added TD runs in the third quarter, and Maish added another in the fourth, but Willie Dennison responded for Anderson with an 86-yard kickoff return for a TD to cap the scoring.
"I can't believe they kicked to him," Qualls said. "I guess you don't want to kick to (Octavous Anderson), either."
Wide receiver Malachi Qualls finished with six receptions to increase his national-leading total to 96.
Qualls sees improvement from the start of the year when successful football basics were hard to spot.
"After the first few games this year, it was so much better," he said. "To be able to get field position and to get a punt off, we haven't had that at all this year. Our tackling has gotten better and our understanding of how to throw and catch has gotten better."