PREP FOOTBALL: Fairview collects 24-19 win over St. John Paul II

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Fairview running back Tyler Simmons (24) cuts through a hole during the Aggies’ win over St. John Paul II Friday night. (Gary McGriff for The Cullman Tribune)

FAIRVIEW, Ala. – After Fairview scored 62 points last week against DAR, Aggie fans returned to the home atmosphere of Dafford Smith Stadium wondering if an offensive explosion was on tap again. There weren’t quite as many points on display, but the home-standing Aggies did secure a 24-19 region win over the Falcons.

The St. John Paul II Catholic Falcons came to Fairview hoping to get back to winning after losing last week. Fairview hoped to continue winning after last week’s score.

The Falcons took the opening kickoff and ended up punting after a six-play drive. Fairview took over in great field position after a 24-yard punt return by Eli Speegle with the ball on its own 42-yard line. Fairview used a 10-play drive to score when Tyler Simmons scored on a 3-yard touchdown run. The PAT kick was no good and with 4:42 to go in the first quarter, Fairview’s lead was 6-0.

After seven plays, the Falcons appeared to be threatening when Parker Martin intercepted Seth Brown’s pass and returned it 14 yards to Fairview’s 39-yard line. After two plays for negative yardage and an incomplete pass, the Aggies were forced to punt, and the first quarter ended with Fairview leading 6-0.

The Falcons continued their drive, and after a five-play drive highlighted by a 36-yard pass from Brown to Nicholas Stokes, they scored on a 17-yard pass to Sean Zerkle. The PAT was good and early in second period, the Falcons lead was 7-6.

Fairview took over on its own 34-yard line hoping to answer. After a 23-yard run by quarterback Parker Martin, the Aggies completed a four-play drive when Mason Black ran for a 28-yard touchdown score. Fairview went for the 2-point conversion that ended up being no good. The score was now 12-7, the Aggies leading with 9:19 to go in the half.

The Falcons began their next drive with great field position on their own 41-yard line. Deep in Fairview’s territory, Martin answered with his second interception of the half on his own goal line to stop the drive.

Fairview’s next drive was a mixture of good and bad. A 75-yard run play was negated by a holding penalty. The Aggies were still able to drive deep into Falcons territory, where a 2-yard incompletion in the end zone forced Fairview to attempt a 14-yard field goal. The field goal attempt was no good and Fairview took a 12-7 lead into halftime.

On the opening drive of the second half, the up and down of the first-half ending continued for Fairview.  Another long play was negated by a penalty. The Falcons tried to help with their own penalty, but once again a flag against Fairview stalled the drive. A bright spot was Simmons pinning the Falcons on a punt to their 3-yard line.

The Falcons used passing by Brown until Tyvn Ellis sacked him for a 5-yard loss.  With the ball at Fairview’s 38-yard line and a fourth-and-11, a short pass by Brown didn’t gain a first down and the Aggies took over on downs. On Fairview’s next drive, the Aggies looked to be driving for another score when Martin’s pass was intercepted on the goal line and returned to the 35-yard line of the Falcons by Zerkle.

On the very next play, Victor Malone fumbled during a run and Ellis recovered the ball and raced 37 yards for the score. With just 17 seconds to go in the third quarter, Fairview now led 18-7.

The Falcons answered quickly, scoring in four plays capped off by a 33-yard touchdown pass from Brown to Zerkle. With 11:20 to go in the game and an unsuccessful 2-point conversion, Fairview’s lead was now 18-13.

Fairview took over on its own 20-yard line and on eight straight running plays scored on a 7-yard touchdown run by Simmons. With 7:45 left in the game Fairview extended their lead to 24-13.

On the next drive, the Falcons appeared to suffer their own lapse of execution when they had a 43-yard touchdown pass called back on a penalty. However, Fairview quickly aided them when it was called for two major penalties bringing the Falcons down to the Aggies 10-yard line. Brown and Zerkle hooked up again for an 8-yard touchdown pass. With the PAT no good, Fairview’s lead was down to 24-19 with 5:52 left in the game.

It appeared the last team with the ball might win the game. When Martin was sacked, Fairview was forced to punt, and the Falcons had one last shot at winning the game. The Falcons completed three passes for 36 yards and were inside Fairview territory. Fairview’s defense again rose to the occasion when Black intercepted Brown’s pass to end the threat, making the final score 24-19 Fairview.

The Aggies again relied on their running game. They rushed for 265 yards on 54 carries.  Ellis led all rushers with 115 yards on 27 carries.

Brown for the Falcons ended up with 222 yards on 18 of 23 passing.

“The Falcons really got after us.  Our execution was off, and you have to attribute to them and their coaching staff,” Fairview Head Coach George Redding said. “Both teams could have laid down but both teams fought to the end.”

Fairview improves to 3-1 and 2-0 in region play.  The Aggies travel to Priceville next week to play the Bulldogs.

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