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The buzz returned for the East Canton High School football team last Friday against Malvern.
Lights at East Canton Stadium shined on a packed crowd on both ends on a chilly fall evening. The crowd saw the Hornet trophy stay in East Canton for a second straight year after a 49-6 rout on homecoming night. East Canton also topped Malvern on the road in 2015.
"It's awesome," head coach John "Spider" Miller said. "It's awesome for our kids. It's awesome for the community. It's awesome for everybody in the school. I'm very proud of the way we played. We came out and started right from the beginning. We had all three phases kicking: offense, defense and special teams."
Senior tailback Travis Nelson got the Hornets offense going with a 35-yard dash down the right side less than two minutes in.
With 8:59 left in the first quarter, junior quarterback Mitch Mitchell fired a 25-yard pass to the end zone. He connected with junior receiver Anthony Baad who caught the ball over the top of a Malvern defender.
That gave East Canton a 7-0 lead. It was the first of six touchdowns in the first half. The Hornets went into halftime with a 42-0 lead. Miller said the first half "might have been one of the best halves I've seen since I've been around."
James McCullough had four touchdown on the night including three in the first half. With 4:32 left in the first quarter, he followed blocks up the middle for a 13-yard TD carry. He added a 49-yard TD carry three minutes later and a 21-yard scoring run with 3:34 left before halftime.
His final scoring carry was a 41-yard scamper with 7:36 left in the third quarter.
Nelson also added a 9-yard touchdown run with 8:34 left in the second quarter. Mitchell ran it in from a yard out with 17 seconds left before halftime.
Malvern got its lone touchdown with 7:25 left in the game thanks to a 5-yard Gavin Potts touchdown run.
East Canton almost caught Malvern off guard at the opening kickoff with an onside attempt. Pressure from the East Canton defensive front forced Malvern to face an early 3rd and 26 following an intentional grounding penalty.
Miller appreciated his team's play up front on both sides of the ball.
"We got everybody back so we could rotate some kids," he said.
East Canton (3-4, 1-3) got its first conference victory of the year following three straight losses to Garaway, Ridgewood and Sandy Valley. The three IVC powers are now a combined 17-4.
"We've played some tough, tough football teams, and we've learned from it," Miller said. "They came out, and they had fun."
The win will help East Canton's standing for a postseason berth. The Hornets entered the game at No. 11 in Division VII, Region 25.
McCullough finished the game with 183 yards on 13 carries. Nelson ran 14 times for 104 yards. Mitchell threw just two passes on the night. He completed both of them for 33 yards. The Hornets totaled 393 yards on the night.
East Canton will play its final home game of the season tonight against Strasburg.
The 2-5 Tigers are winless in the IVC. They have featured a run-heavy offense and have averaged nearly 278 yards per game on the ground.
Strasburg's offensive attack has been led by Justin Stropky and Jared Burnworth. Their best performance of the season may have been in a week five loss to Malvern, Stropky ran for 225 yards on 30 carries and Burnworth added 148 yards on 26 carries.
Kickoff at East Canton is set for 7 p.m.