by JACOB MEREDITH / sporting pumpkin.com
LANCASTER — So, you’re saying there’s a chance?
Entering Friday’s game both Fairfield Union and Teays Valley were in the hunt for a 16 seed in the state playoffs in this final meeting between the Vikings and Falcons.
The Falcons got the win, beating the Vikings 21-14, but when all the numbers shook out, FU finds itself coming up a little short and will not make the postseason. The Falcons will finish approximately 18th in their region with the top 16 advancing to Week 11.
The night started out with a big defensive play by Fairfield Union’s Jack Nolan picking off a TV pass, but the Falcons conceded the drive with a punt.
The Vikings took advantage of a miscue on Falcon punt when they recovered a fumble in the red zone and Spike Woods made them pay with a 16-yard touchdown run. (Woods would tote the ball 17 times in this league matchup.) And a Maxwell Spencer point after kick made the score 7-0 toward the blue and gold.
The Falcons answered with a 71-yard run from Hunter Clark to tie the score at 7 all.
The ensuing Vikings’ drive would get spoiled when Fairfield Union’s Isaiah Saleh picked off a Kole Nungester pass.
“They ran what we thought they would run defensively, and we practiced all week, but we could not sustain our blocks tonight.” TV coach Brian Cross said. “And the turnovers always kill.”
The Falcons’ Owen Ruff would handle the rock four times in a Fairfield Union seven-play drive in which he capped it off with a 42-yard touchdown run to take the lead to 14-7 Falcons, which is where it stood at halftime. The junior carried the ball 29 times for 125 yards.
“Upfront on both sides, we couldn’t move them, or stop them defensively or offensively,” Cross said. “We knew they would run the ball against us, I also envisioned us running the ball better on our side as well.”
Fairfield and Teays started the second half trading punts, then momentum would be shifted toward the Falcons when they intercepted the Vikings for the third time after a distress scramble from Nungester. Fairfield Union cashed in on a short field on the back of Ruff again with a two-yard touchdown trot, as he ran the ball six out seven plays. His TD run took the FU advantage to 21-7.
The scoring was capped in the final quarter when Nungester (12-25 passing for 173 yards) would make a shifty scramble and connect with senior Harrison Payne for a big 42-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 21-14.
Payne had five catches for 105 yards.
The Vikings tried an onside kick but the Falcons recovered to preserve the win.
“We are a very young football team. We had three to four seniors playing and we are going to build on that for next year. The previous year had 28 seniors I was told and that just gives our kids another year and an opportunity to come back next year better,” concluded Cross.
The Vikings finish the season with a 4-6 record (3-4 in the MSL) while the Falcons wrap up the season at 6-4, 4-3.