PREP FOOTBALL: Aggies advance with 27-22 win over Center Point

Fairview’s Parker Martin (9) posted four touchdowns in the Aggies’ 27-22 win over Center Point Friday night. (Martha Needham/The Cullman Tribune)

FARIVIEW, Ala. — In the AHSAA Class 5A first round playoffs, the Center Point Eagles (7-3) traveled to Dafford Smith Stadium to take on the Fairview Aggies (9-1). The winner advances to a second round game and one step closer to a state championship.  Fairview left with a 27-22 victory to collect its first 5A playoff win in school history.

To open the game, Fairview won the toss and elected to receive the kickoff.  Parker Martin returned the ball to the Fairview 44-yard line. A blindside block and offside penalties against the Aggies forced them into a punting situation. A roughing the kicker penalty against Center Point gave Fairview a new set of downs in Eagles territory.  Martin converted a fourth-and-one to continue the drive. Two plays later Martin fumbled the ball and Kemarius Horne recovered the ball at the 19-yard line and scored an 81-yard touchdown. The 2-point conversion was good and with 5:33 left in the first quarter the Eagles lead was 8-0.

Taking over at their own 28-yard line, the Aggies used nine straight running plays by Martin and Tyler Simmons to get down inside the five and capped off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run by Martin. With 1:19 left in the first quarter the Aggies had closed the gap to 8-7, limiting Center Point to only three offensive plays in the quarter.

Continuing their drive into the second quarter, the Eagles faced a fourth-and-3 from the Fairview 29-yard line. The Aggies appeared to have stopped Center Point short when a face mask penalty against Fairview extended the drive. Facing another fourth down from Fairview’s seven-yard line, Center Point’s Troy Bruce took the option pitch in for a touchdown. The 2-point conversion was no good and with 8:30 left in the second quarter the score was 14-7.

Eli Speegle returned the kickoff 25 yards to give the Aggies great field position near midfield.  Strong running by Martin and Simmons was aided by a 20-yard pass to Dalton Payne. Deep in Center Point territory, Martin capped off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. The extra point was missed and with 4:23 left in the first half Fairview cut the lead to 14-13.

The Aggies held the Eagles to a quick 3-and-out forcing a punt. Late in the first half, Fairview wanted to add more points. On the second play Horne struck again when he intercepted Martin’s pass. Neither team could mount another scoring drive and the half ended with the Eagles leading 14-13.

Fairview had 188 yards total offense compared to Center Point’s 54 total yards. Running only 15 plays in the first half, the Eagles led by one.

Center Point took the kickoff in the second half and looked to mount some offense. On the second play Jabari Collier completed a 28-yard pass to Bruce and the Eagles were in business.  Three plays later D’ontae Eatmon scored on a 34-yard run. With 9:38 left in the third quarter the Eagles extended their lead to 22-13.

Center Point attempted an onside kick and Fairview recovered the ball near midfield. The Aggies shifted to their passing game attempting five passes on a 11-play scoring drive. Martin continued his scoring streak on a 6-yard touchdown run. The 2-point conversion was good and with 5:11 left in the third quarter Center Point’s lead was now 21-22.

The Aggies forced a Center Point punt and ended the third quarter with the ball at their own 31-yard line. Fairview ran off 13 plays that used 6:49 off the clock. During the drive, the Aggies overcame another penalty. On one run it looked as if Simmons was going to be tackled behind the line of scrimmage when he broke through for a positive gain. After a bad snap, the Aggies faced a fourth-and-6 from the Eagles 19-yard line. Instead of attempting a go-ahead field goal, Fairview snapped the ball. Martin handed the ball to Speegle, who tossed the ball to Bryson Chamness who floated a left-handed pass to a wide open Martin in the end zone and gave the Aggies the lead. The 2-point conversion was no good and Fairview had taken its first lead of the game, 27-22.

Fairview forced Center Point into a third-and-long and tried to force the Eagles to make a decision on fourth down. A facemask penalty against the Aggies gave the Eagles new life but they were unable to get another first down and turned the ball over to the Aggies deep in their own territory. 

Fairview was unable to get a first down and gave the ball back to Center Point at the Eagles 30-yard line with under two minutes to go in the game. Two quick incomplete passes and it looked as if the Aggies would be able to put away the Eagles. Center Point’s quarterback Collier had a different idea when he escaped an apparent sack to run the ball for 20 yards giving the Eagles the ball at midfield.

A holding call against the Eagles followed by a Fairview sack completed the game giving the Aggies a hard fought 27-22 victory.

Simmons ended the game with 105 yards on 22 rushes. Martin completed his four touchdown game with 110 yards on 24 rushes and going 10 of 15 passing for 93 yards. His biggest touchdown was as a receiver to give the Aggies the lead.

After the game Coach Redding said, “I was proud of our offensive line. The defense stepped up and provided key stops.”

Fairview will be on the road to face Ramsay in the second round of the state playoffs next week.

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