PREP FOOTBALL: Fairview takes 21-18 thriller at Boaz

The Fairview Aggies edged Boaz in a 21-18 thriller on the road Friday night. (Chris Pugh/The Cullman Tribune)

BOAZ, Ala. — In a game that looked like it could end up a blow out several times, Fairview’s defense had to muster up one last stop followed up by a game sealing first down to defeat a Boaz team that simply wouldn’t go away 21-18 on the road. Fairview survived bad calls, several mistakes and yet find themselves now 5-1 on the year and 3-1 in the region.

The opening drive of the game for the visiting Aggies was cut short after an interception on the fourth play of the drive. The Boaz Pirates found a wide open receiver on the next play to jumpstart a nine play, 78 yard touchdown drive. A 12-yard run would put Boaz up 6-0, and the score would remain that after a blocked PAT.

Senior quarterback would bounce right back leading his team’s drive 64 yards in 11 plays. He’d account for a total of 61 of those yards during a drive where the Aggies twice found themselves facing fourth down. After converting on both Martin capped off the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run. After the PAT Fairview took a 6-7 lead. 

Following a quick three and out by Boaz, Martin went right back to work completing 3 passes to senior Dalton Payne for 34 yards. Senior Tyler Simmons would add 18 yards to the drive, before Martin once again ran it in to stretch the lead to 14-6.

Fairview’s defense would force a second straight three and out on the next Pirate possession. Martin would rip a big run on the opening play of the drive only to be called back due to a holding call, the first of many calls (or blown calls) against Fairview to come. That drive turned into a three and out as well for Fairview. 

Boaz would then go right to work before the half where they’d find themselves on a 3rd and 3. After getting the first down on the play the runner would clearly cough it up, where an Aggie jumped on it. Seconds after the play was finished, the ball was blown dead and given back to the Pirates. However, as they say on the playground, the ball don’t lie. Fairview would then stop Boaz on four straight plays and the Aggies went into the half leading 14-6. 

Martin picked off the Pirates QB on the third play of the second half. Fairview used a balanced attack to get themselves to the 1-yard line, where they’d be stuffed on 4th down. Another Boaz three and out would give Fairview the ball back once again only to again be stopped on 4th down. 

Fairview’s defense would continue it’s dominance forcing it’s 4th three and out of the game and this is where running back Eli Frost would start to come alive. Limited to only a few carries in the first half Frost would rip off back to back 20 yards runs which set up for a 14 yard touchdown pass from Martin to Jameson Goble putting Fairview up 21-6 after Guyton’s third made PAT. 

Just when the blowout seemed to be starting you could hear whispers of the famous Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend.” Boaz would respond with a 50 yard touchdown strike on a deep ball on the drive’s fourth play. The PAT would bounce off the left upright keeping it a two-possession game with Fairview on top 21-12. Now into the fourth quarter Boaz executed a perfect onside kick that gave Boaz the ball back at midfield. 

Fairview would again stop Boaz on 4th down but a miscue on the following possession led to another interception by Boaz in Aggie territory. The Pirates didn’t waste the opportunity this time going all 49 yards into the end zone. Fairview would block another PAT which gave us a 21-18 Aggie lead that they’d desperately be clinging to. 

In a game where momentum was shifting to the home squad Eli Frost quickly would quiet the crowd breaking tackle after tackle on a 61-yard run that put Fairview back in the redzone. Unfortunately, the Aggies redzone troubles would continue when Martin had to throw a long 4th down pass, and it fell into Boaz hands. 

Boaz would have the ball with just under 3 minutes to play and one timeout. With Martin fuming on the defensive side of the ball Boaz heaved a long jump ball that Martin would attack and secure on the way to a possible game saving play for his second interception of the night. 

Now Fairview would need just one first down to ice the game. Following a Simmons 9-yard run Martin would head 26 yards for the game sealing touchdown, only for yet another flag to be thrown against Fairview. Simmons would then fight for 6 more yards and on 3rd and 6 Martin would gain them all sealing the nail-biting win in a key region matchup.  

In a game that easily would have been a blowout, Head Coach George Redding had this to say about his team’s ability to handle adversity,

“We knew Boaz would bring energy. They’re a team that plays with a lot of emotional, but we’ve talked all year about not just being in the storm but being the storm,” Redding said. “So, with all the highs and lows of this game I’m just proud of our guys for holding on. We have to improve in the redzone. Any team that’s going to do anything in the playoffs has to be more efficient in the redzone than we were tonight.”

Martin, who finished with finished 12/21 and 195 total yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions on the defensive side of the ball added,

“We knew this would be the toughest place we play all year,” Martin said. “It wasn’t pretty, but I’m thrilled we came out with a win. We just have to keep improving.”

The hero of the second half and really of the game, Eli Frost, finished with 153 yards on 17 carries, with 147 of those in the second half alone. When asked about his big night and clutch performance down the stretch he said,

“It’s not about me. It can be tempting, but we just have guys out there playing hard, making blocks, doing everything they can to help me run the ball when I get it so I’m just thankful for my teammates,” Frost said. “And when my number is called, I’m just going to give it everything I’ve got.”

Now poised to snag second place in the region, Fairview will travel once again next week for another regional matchup against the Crossville Lions.

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