PREP FOOTBALL: Fairview’s historic playoff run ends with 47-17 loss at No. 2 Pleasant Grove

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Fairview running back Tyler Simmons (24) finished with 105 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Aggies’ 47-17 loss at Pleasant Grove Friday night. (Martha Needham/The Cullman Tribune)

PLEASANT GROVE, Ala. – Fairview’s season continued in Pleasant Grove Friday night when the Aggies hit the field to take on the second-ranked Spartans in the Class 5A Semifinals. It was the first time Fairview has made it the fourth round of the state playoffs and a massive contingent of Aggie fans made the trip to pack the stands and support the Aggies on the field. Unfortunately, the Spartans proved to be too much for Fairview to handle and this year’s historic postseason run came to an end with a 47-17 loss to Pleasant Grove.

Aggies Head Coach George Redding is disappointed with the outcome of Friday night’s game but knows that it doesn’t take anything away from what his team has accomplished this fall. He hopes future generations of Aggies can learn from the example set by this year’s team and understand they can achieve whatever they want if they’re willing to work for it.

“Listen, I couldn’t be more proud of a group of young men that I think just paved the way and saw things the way I hope all young men can see things. That’s just to get up and work hard and don’t fit in that little box that everyone wants to put us in. If you want something, get up and work for it and go get it,” Redding said. “This team has proven that you can do that. They belong here, we earned our right to be here and the other team was just better than us tonight but that takes nothing away from our guys and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

The Spartans received the game’s opening kick and used screen passes to pick up a couple of early first downs, but the Aggies forced a fumble and Bryson Chamness recovered it to give the ball to Fairview on Pleasant Grove’s side of the 50. Fairview Quarterback Parker Martin used his legs to gain the Aggies’ first first down of the drive and running back Eli Frost ripped off 9 yards on fourth and short later in the drive to move the chains again. Fairview moved the ball down inside the 10-yard line, but penalties backed the Aggies up and stalled the drive. Elijah Guyton came onto the field and knocked through a 42-yard field goal to put Fairview up 3-0 with just under five minutes to play in the first quarter.

The ensuing kickoff was mishandled by the Spartans and the Aggies recovered, setting up the Fairview offense with great field position once again. Another penalty put the Aggies behind the chains, and they were forced to punt the ball back to Pleasant Grove with around three minutes remaining in the first. A big gain on first down gave the Spartans some momentum and after a couple more explosive runs, including a 34-yard touchdown, they pulled ahead of Fairview 7-3 with one minute to play in the opening quarter.

A huge return by Martin on the ensuing kickoff set up the Aggies offense in Pleasant Grove territory and they were able move the chains on fourth and short again to extend the drive. However, facing fourth-and-four inside the Spartan 30-yard line, Fairview was unable to pick up the yardage to gain and turned the ball over on downs with around nine minutes to play in the second quarter. A pair of big runs moved Pleasant Grove across midfield and another explosive gain through the air put the Spartans inside the Aggie 10-yard line. Fairview held them out of the end zone on three straight plays, but the Spartans were finally able to punch it in on their fourth try and took a 14-3 lead with less than five minutes remaining in the first half.

The Aggies were forced to punt on their next possession and Pleasant Grove took over near its own 40-yard line. The Spartans began moving the chains again and connected on another big pass to get into the red zone. Two plays later, an 18-yard touchdown pass stretched the lead to 21-3 with 20 seconds remaining until halftime. Frost took the ensuing kickoff back from the 1-yard line all the way out past midfield to give the Aggies a chance to score before the half but Martin couldn’t get the hail mary attempt off and the first half ended with Fairview trailing 21-3.

The Aggies were held to just 74 yards of offense in the first half and were penalized five times for 50 yards.

Fairview received the ball to start the third quarter and a big run from Frost on an option play gave the Aggies a first down near midfield. Frost broke loose for a 25-yard gain later in the drive and set Fairview’s offense up inside the 20-yard line of Pleasant Grove. The Spartans stiffened on defense and the Aggies decided to go for it on fourth-and-six at about the 12-yard line, but a fumbled snap led to another turnover on downs and Pleasant Grove took over possession early in the third quarter. One play later, the Spartans took a handoff 83 yards to the house for a touchdown and after a blocked extra point, the Aggies trailed 27-3 with 7:15 to play in the third.

Pleasant Grove forced another Fairview punt and got the ball back with around six minutes remaining in the third quarter and it took just two plays for the Spartans to get back in the end zone with another long touchdown run. The Aggies held on the two-point conversion attempt and trailed 33-3 with just under five minutes on the clock in the period. Fairview was finally able to respond on its next drive. Martin connected with Caden Jennings and Dalton Payne on back to back passes to pick up a pair of first downs and he gained 14 more on the ground to get the Aggies deep into Spartan territory. Simmons broke through the line and scored from 25 yards out on the next play to get Fairview into the end zone for the first time and after Guyton’s extra point, the lead was down to 33-10 late in the third quarter.

However, it took Pleasant Grove just one play to answer the Aggie score and a 65-yard touchdown run built the lead back up to 40-10 with less than two minutes remaining in the third. Penalties slowed down Fairview once again on its next possession and the Aggies were forced to punt it away. The Spartans strung together some first downs early in the fourth quarter to maintain possession and run some clock but on a fourth down play, they hit another explosive pass to down inside the 10-yard line. The Spartans ran one in one the next play and took a 47-10 lead with just over seven minutes to play.

Fairview’s offense came back out onto the field and gained a quick pair of first downs thanks to some hard running from Simmons. Simmons wasn’t done, and on fourth-and-short, Simmons weaved his way through multiple tackles and scored his second touchdown of the night from 35 yards out to trim the lead to 47-17 with 4:22 remaining in the game. The Aggies forced a punt and got the ball back with just under two minutes to play but couldn’t chip away any more of the lead and Pleasant Grove held on to win it 47-17.

Simmons led the way for Fairview on the ground with 105 yards and two touchdowns and he caught two passes for 21 yards. Frost finished just behind with 90 yards rushing and Martin added 23 of his own. Martin finished 9/20 passing for 54 yards. Payne caught three passes for 29 yards and posted 14 yards on the ground as well.

Friday night’s game didn’t go according to plan for the Aggies but this year’s team and the season they had will always be remembered as one of the greatest in Fairview’s history.

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