By Ron Nunnari
CLAYTON – Fairmont’s defense kept Northmont’s offense in check for almost the entire first half Friday night before quarterback Cade Rice tossed a 41 yard touchdown pass to Rod Moore with seven seconds left.
Fairmont defensive back Jaylen Razor nearly intercepted the pass, but Moore reached over Razor to snare the pass for the touchdown just inside the back of the end zone. Xavier Vuong kicked the extra-point to put the Thunderbolts up 7-0 at halftime.
The Firebirds’ defensive scheme kept Rice in check limiting him to 15 completions on 28 pass attempts for 159 yards and two touchdowns. However, Rice evaded Fairmont’s defensive pressure to gain 87 yards rushing on nine carries.
Northmont walked away with a 20-6 victory, but it didn’t come easy.
Fairmont used a grind it out, ground-based offense to dominate time of possession nearly three to one, but Northmont made the most of its opportunities with the ball.
The Thunderbolts ate up the clock in the third quarter controlling the ball for nearly half the quarter. Northmont engineered a 16 play, 67 yard drive with Rice scoring on a five yard run on fourth down and one. Vuong’s kick boosted Northmont’s lead to 14-0 with 6:24 remaining in the third quarter.
Northmont effectively put the game away by forcing Fairmont to punt on its next possession. The Thunderbolts took over at their 39 yard line. Nine plays later Rice tossed a seven yard touchdown pass to Allen with 1:20 left in the third stanza. A bad snap on the point after wiped out the kick, but Northmont was in control 20-0.
Fairmont finally got on the scoreboard by engineering a seven play, 62 yard drive with Male’k Hilton tossing a 36 yard touchdown pass to Keon Wright with 11:23 remaining in the game. After a bad snap on the extra-point kicker Will Holt scooped up the ball and fired a pass into the end zone that got broken up to make the final tally 20-6.
“The credit really goes to Dave Miller and the Fairmont staff,” said Northmont coach Tony Broering. “They did a really good job. They prepped for us very well on defense and that is their game, to frustrate us and to keep our offense off the field. They did what they needed to do. My guys, like last week, just never give up. Our defense played great and had a shutout, but we as coaches messed up on that. Offensively we were just so explosive. Rice and Allen and those guys can really go.”
The coaching staff also got defensive back Rod Moore in on the scoring action by designing a few special plays to use him as a receiver, one of which resulted in the Thunderbolts first touchdown.
“We’ve got special packages for Rod. That wasn’t one of them,” Broering added. “That was just kind of a, ‘Hey get in there and run this route.’ We do have a lot of special packages with Rod involved. We started game last week with him in on offense to throw a curve ball at him. He is going to Michigan for a reason. He is a very talented player. He is a special talent both offensively and defensively.”
Next up the Thunderbolts invade Beavercreek, which suffered a 77-16 loss to Springboro in week No. 2 of the 2020 season.
Tank Gant led Fairmont with 112 yards on 33 carries. Fairmont had 264 total yards while Northmont generated 295 yards, 159 passing and 136 rushing. Allen led the receiving corps with 68 yards on seven receptions with one TD while Moore had 41 yards on one reception and one TD.
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