CLEVELAND, Tenn. (WRCB) -- Ron Crawford said his Cleveland team either wasn't scared or wasn't smart for scheduling McCallie as its season-opening opponent in 2013.
But the only sure thing about Thursday night's debut was there wasn't any defense.
The Blue Raiders and Blue Tornado combined for 1,104 yards and 90 points, though it was McCallie that finished with more of both in a 55-35 shootout win at Benny Monroe Stadium.
Led by sophomore quarterback JarVaughn Craig, who just stepped into the role a few weeks ago because of injuries, the Blue Tornado offense looked like a well-oiled machine to start Ralph Potter's second year.
Craig proved to be an extremely effective and elusive dual-threat, throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for two more en route to 381 total yards of offense.
Cleveland quarterback Austin Herink did his best to match Craig's pace, throwing for 478 yards and four touchdowns while adding a fifth score on the ground, but McCallie's well-balanced attack found ways to maintain momentum.
The Blue Tornado built a 21-7 lead first-quarter lead behind two short touchdown runs and a 71-yard strike from Craig to speedster C.J. Fritz. Herink answered with a 60-yard connection to Tyler Davis, then had his team in the red zone again for a potential tying score in the second quarter before the Blue Raiders ultimately missing a field goal.
Craig moved McCallie swiftly the other way and scored on a four-yard run to push the advantage to 27-14 at the break. He hit Spencer Morgan on the opening drive of the third quarter for a 34-14 advantage, but Cleveland made one last run.
In the span of less than a minute, Herink hit D.J. Jones and Parker Smith for two quick touchdowns to pull the Blue Raiders within 34-28. The second score was set up by a fumble recovery by Kimsey Bell.
But before the raucous crowd could catch its breathe, Jeffery Coleman returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a score to slam the door on the Cleveland rally.
Can't find what you're looking for?