Story by Matt Lofgren
Photos by Bobby Jones
Fairview scored twice in the first half, then held off Bay defensively to earn a 10-6 road victory over the Rockets Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
The Warriors, now 3-0 on the season, moved the ball and scored their only touchdown of the night on the game's first drive. From there, it was Fairview's defense that contained Bay’s offense for just 97 yards rushing on 38 attempts.
"We play pretty good defense. We've got some pretty good kids there," Fairview head coach Tom Narducci said.
"They're all game tested. They've played for us, and they came through when they needed to."
Setting the tone with a nine-play touchdown drive that covered 86 yards, Narducci got a Warrior-like effort out of his senior quarterback Jason Kish. His 6-yard touchdown run capped off the drive and put his Warriors up 7-0 early on.
Kish went on to have a strong showing with 78 yards on the ground and 22 through the air as he facilitated the Warriors’ spread offense.
"That's what you want to do when you run the spread offense," Narducci said. "You want to be able to throw the ball, and you want to be able to run the ball. We were able to do that effectively and move the ball down the field when we had to."
After the scoring drive, the Bay defense buckled down to play strong against Fairview’s option attack. Bay allowed just three points after the first drive, that coming on a 35-yard field goal by Fairview freshman Elion Bendo.
Trailing 10-0 headed into halftime, it was another gut-check for the Rockets and head coach Ryan Gorius.
On the verge of slipping to 0-3 in a handful of close games, Bay came out of halftime and played determined football. The Rockets opened the third quarter with a 14-play touchdown drive capped off by a Jake Best 10-yard rushing touchdown. That scoring drive ate up almost six minutes of game time.
"I gave it to my best player and said 'hey, take us down' and he did," Gorius said. "We finally got a little help from some other players, and that's what happened."
Gorius' best player through the past three weeks has been Best. The senior quarterback ran an offense that put up 176 yards of total yards, 154 yards of it belonging to him. His sophomore brother, Nick Best, accounted for the other 22 yards.
While Gorius looks for answers on the offensive side of the ball, his defense has proven its worth this season. That trend continued Friday as Bay contained the Warriors for 220 yards of total offense.
Gorius said he was pleased with the adjustments his staff and players made.
"Other than the first series, the defense and the defensive staff did a great job," Gorius said. "They kept us in the game when it could have gotten ugly real fast.
“You don't know exactly what somebody's going to do that first series, it could go for you or against you. Tonight it went against us," he said.
The Bay defense had the offense's back after the Warriors marched down to the Rockets' 6-yard line. That’s when junior Danny Heideloff picked off a Colin McNamara pass to give the Rockets some hope.
But the Rockets couldn't get anything working offensively. They did, however, have a shot at a comeback late in this one.
After forcing a punt inside their own territory, the Rockets took over with the ball at their own 20 with 2:16 left in the game. But it was the Fairview defense that would hold true to fend off Bay for the win.
"We need to find some more guys to step up and make some plays, which you saw late,” Gorius said. “I mean, we had three series the second half and that's partly because of who we are as an offense. However, you saw what happens when you have to go 80 yards."
At the end of the day, it was a big win for a young Fairview program hungry to prove their skill against a crosstown opponent.
"Any win is a great win, especially when you can beat Bay Village," Narducci said. "We haven't beaten them in a while, so we're going to savor the victory tonight."
(You can follow Matt Lofgren on Twitter @MLofgrenDKS. Follow our website @BeAFanatic)