KINGWOOD — A stingy defense and dominating offensive performance for the Fairmont Senior football team (7-1) led to a 51-8 win at Preston, on Oct. 13.
A bright spot for PHS (1-6) was quarterback Dakota Holt, who proved why he is the team’s leading rusher.
At the end of the first quarter, Preston had yet to produce a first down.
In the second quarter, the Knights put Colton Rosenberger in at quarterback and moved Holt to wideout, where he made one of the two arguably best rushing plays of the game and the Knights began threatening before the half.
“We were trying to get to the edge and loosen them up a little bit,” Preston head coach Jonathan Tennant said of the Polar Bears. “We don’t have anyone else that is capable of getting to the edge, so we put Dakota in there, and Rosenberger has proven he can do the job. So we just tried to get another athlete in space and that’s the reasoning behind that.”
Following a punt, Holt picked up a quick 7 yards, then added a 29-yard breakaway run to put the Knights at the Polar Bears’ 44-yard line with 42 seconds to play in the first half.
This held as the longest rushing play of the night until a 32-yard run by Rosenberger in the Knights’ last possession of the game.
After Holt’s run, a 20-yard touchdown pass from Rosenberger to Tucker Knisell was called back due to a personal foul.
However, it foreshadowed what would happen after the break.
On Fairmont Senior’s first possession of the third quarter, three straight tackles for loss or little gain by Bake Miller and Jaron Summers forced the Polar Bears to punt, and a bad snap resulted in a safety for Preston, which then got the ball right back.
Preston freshman Jeffrey Townsend picked up runs of five and 14 yards, and Caleb Gribble pushed for another first down to keep the drive alive.
The possession was capped by a 27-yard pass from Rosenberger to Knisell. A blocked kick left Preston with eight points on the scoreboard.
Holt led the offense with eight carries for 55 yards and picked up Preston’s first three first downs.
However, other than this burst of momentum, the Knights were outmatched by the Polar Bears, who entered the game ranked No. 3 in Class AA.
Bryson Gilbert was a force in the first quarter, scoring three touchdowns and grabbing two interceptions.
“We were able to get some pressure up front,” Fairmont Senior head coach Nick Bartic said. “We did a nice job and that opened the way for Bryson to do his thing.
“Holt likes to run, and he will throw it on the run. He tries to make plays. We knew from watching film we practiced scramble drill a lot this week because the run is never over with him. He’s always trying to make something happen.”
Gilbert’s touchdowns were among the 31 points the Polar Bears put up in the first quarter.
Other scores came on an 18-yard touchdown run by Caleb Walker and a 37-yard field goal by Frankie Smith.
Gilbert paced the Polar Bears’ offense with eight carries for 65 yards. Walker added 53 yards on four carries and a touchdown.
Quarterback Connor Neal completed 7 of 11 passes for 143 yards and one touchdown.
The Knights tallied 164 total yards and surrendered 384 to the Polar Bears.
“We didn’t come out with a lot of energy or passion, and they are a good football team and have a good program,” Tennant said. “We don’t play well when we don’t play with energy or passion.
“They (Polar Bears) didn’t do anything we didn’t expect. All the credit to them. They shut down our running game. We couldn’t run or throw the football. We have to do a better job as coaches figuring out how to score some points.”
Two more touchdowns came from Fairmont Senior in the second quarter, on a 1-yard quarterback keep and a 9-yard pass from Neal to Rhett Heston.
Fairmont Senior’s Gage Michael was put in as quarterback in the third quarter. He ran 1 yard for the final score.
Holt completed two of eight passes for nine yards. Rosenberger connected on two of five for 41 yards.
Preston hosts University at 7 p.m. Oct. 20.