PREP FOOTBALL: 2nd half surge leads Guntersville past Fairview 34-19

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Fairview running back Tyler Simmons (24) finished with 67 yards on 15 carries in the Aggies’ 34-19 loss to Guntersville Friday night. (Martha Needham/The Cullman Tribune)

FAIRVIEW, Ala. — In what could prove to be the battle for first place in the region Fairview ran out of gas in a slugfest that was much closer than the final score would tell. Guntersville used the combination of a bruising running game and west coast style passing game to keep the sticks moving and put the Aggies away late 34-19.

This game would open with some stingy defense as the Fairview opening drive would end with a turnover on downs in Wildcat territory, followed by back to back three and outs by Guntersville and Fairview. Guntersville would capitalize on a couple Aggie miscues including a key missed tackle on third down, which was followed by a busted coverage deep ball that was stopped at the 1-yard line after senior safety Parker Martin sprinted out of his coverage to save the touchdown. A play later, however, the Wildcats would find the end zone and go up 7-0. 

After a slip on the kickoff pinned the Aggies on the 11-yard line they responded with their own big drive lead by Martin and senior running back Tyler Simmons. Martin would cap the drive off with a 10-yard sprint to the end zone, but the extra point would be missed, and Fairview trailed 6-7 midway through the second quarter. 

After the Fairview defense forced a punt, the offense went right back to work from their own 27. Sophomore Eli Frost would take off for a 28-yard run. A few plays later Martin would find Caden Jennings for 24 yards, which set up the Aggies in the redzone for the second time of the time. On a second and four play, Martin dropped back only to have pressure force him up and out of the pocket where he delivered a strike to fellow senior Mickey Chambers for an 11-yard touchdown and a 12-7 lead.

Guntersville would respond by going into their two-minute drill and quickly move the ball into Fairview territory. With seconds remaining in the half a deep ball was delivered that looked to be a touchdown until Martin, a two time all state defensive back, sprinted across and broke up the pass. Fairview would go into the half with a 12-7 lead over their region rivals. 

The Wildcats seemed to come out with a simple gameplan: pound the rock with their big, bruising running back, who broke tackles all throughout the night, and hit quick outs and hitches when needed. With the ball to start the second half Guntersville would come out with a nine play, 75-yard drive that give them a 13-12 lead, one they wouldn’t give up the rest of the night. 

In what may have been the key drive of the game Fairview responded with their own 10 play, 64-yard drive. Disaster seemed to strike when a low snap went flying over 10 yards past Martin, who would pick it up and making five miss for a huge play that kept the drive alive. Unfortunately for the Aggies the drive came down to a 4th and 1 where Simmons would get hit in the backfield for the turnover on downs. 

With 84 yards to go Guntersviile would use their balanced attack to march down and eventually find the endzone on a 20-yard touchdown pass for a 20-12 lead going into the 4th quarter. After a Fairview interception Guntersville then looked take advantage of the short field. Finding themselves with a key 4th and 4 a quick out route would move the sticks and the drive would be finished off with a 23-yard touchdown run to put the Wildcats up 27-12. 

When it felt like the excitement of the game was leaving the stadium, Martin would ignite the crowd on an option to the left, where he’d fake the pitch, make a cut across the field, and outrun the Wildcat defense for a 60-play touchdown that would get Fairview within a possession at 19-27. 

In what would be Guntersville final drive, Simmons, who also plays linebacker would force Guntersville to earn every yard with hard hit after hit. Fellow linebacker Cale Foster would deliver a tremendous hit on the Guntersville running back, that would again fire up the home crowd. Ultimately, the Wildcat offense gassed the Fairview defense, who simply couldn’t get off the field on third down. With 20 first downs, 63 plays, and 400 yards of offense from Guntersville, they were able to put the game away on one last touchdown that put them up for a final score of 34-19. 

Martin completed 12 of his 17 passes and finished with 279 total yards of offense, including 150 rushing yards, three total touchdowns and one interception. Simmons would add 67 on the ground on 15 carries, while Frost added another 53 yards on five carries. Chambers would finish with four receptions, 27 yards, and a touchdown. Jennings had two catches for 40 yards, while a host of other Aggies would add to the Aggie air attack including Jameson Goble, Bryson Chamness, and Dalton Payne. 

Despite dropping to 2-1 on the season (0-1 in the region), a second straight year hosting the first round of the playoffs is still very much alive. They may have lost this early test, but Fairview showed they can hang with the best as they went blow for blow with the reigning region champion. They will look to bounce back next week, going back on the road to Douglas for another region matchup.

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