FAIRMONT — In a crucial Week 5 matchup for both clubs, University (3-2) made the short trip to East-West Stadium for a visit with the defending Class AA state champions Fairmont Senior (3-2) and came back to Morgantown with a 19-14 victory on Friday night..
In a first half where FSHS only ran 14 offensive plays, it was its defense to get the game going early. The Hawks began the game with the ball and ran nearly five minutes off of the first-quarter clock until junior quarterback Luke Hudson was intercepted for a pick-6 that was returned 70 yards, giving the Polar Bears an early 7-0 advantage.
That score remained the same at the end of one.
Down 7-0 with the ball in the red zone, UHS lined up for a field goal from John Coleman on a 4th and 5. An offsides penalty from FSHS gave the Hawks a second chance to tie the contest with an automatic first down. WVU commit Noah Braham powered into the end zone from three yards away, and the game was tied 7-7 after an extra point.
A quick three-and-out by FSHS gave the Hawks possession once again in the second quarter, but a field goal were the points managed this time, giving a 10-7 advantage to the visitors.
That lead wouldn’t last very long at all, as Polar Bear running back Germain Lewis broke free on the first play of the very next drive for an 82-yard touchdown run that gave his team the lead at 14-10 with just under five minutes to go in the game. Lewis rushed for 111 yards on 13 carries, with the 82 yard score being the highlight of the night for FSHS.
UHS trailed 14-10 at halftime and kicked to FSHS to begin the third quarter, but another good defensive drive forced a punt from the Polar Bears.
Penalties began to plague both teams, as both UHS and FSHS ruined multiple offensive plays that went for big gains; some that happened at crucial points of the game, as well.
After another FSHS interception that was taken back for a touchdown, a holding call on the return brought the Polar Bears offense back on the field leading 14-10. The Hawks then forced a fumble on the next play and recover on the 12-yard line, giving life to itself.
Despite failing to find the end zone, another field goal by Coleman, who also caught seven passes for 134 yards, made it a 1-point game 14-13 going into the fourth.
With UHS driving once again, the FSHS defense intercepted Hudson and take over at its own 20, but after a huge 70 yard pass from Brody Whitehair to Cannon Dinger found FSHS at the Hawks 15-yard line with fresh set of downs and a chance to extend the lead.
UHS held strong, forcing a field goal try from FSHS that was missed, allowing the Hawks to take over with 4:37 left to play in the game.
On the first play from scrimmage, Hudson dropped back with an empty backfield and launched a ball into the air toward Braham, who leapt over the defender and caught the ball before scampering 61 yards for the go-ahead touchdown that put his team up 19-14. The 2-point conversion was missed, however, but nonetheless, UHS found itself in the lead for the first time since the first quarter at 10-7.
Then, the penalty bug struck again in the worst way. With the game on the line on a 4th-and-2 play for FSHS, a direct snap went back to Lewis, who broke to the outside for a first down gain, seemingly giving his team a first down and a chance to win the game.
However, one of the FSHS lineman was visibly running down the field during the play, blocking for Lewis without his helmet on (which must have come of at the start of the play) and he was flagged for the mistake, taking the first down gain from a positive play to a 15-yard penalty that made it 4th-and-17 instead. A failed pass followed, giving UHS the ball with less than two minutes to play.
The Hawks would lineup in the victory formation and kneel down to run the clock out and go home with a crucial win over Fairmont Senior.
“Signature win for us, we had multiple opportunities to win it in the red zone and gave them some chances with turnovers but that’s a great win,” UHS head coach John Kelley said. “We shot ourselves in the foot all night with penalties and missed opportunities. That was a big touchdown from him [Coleman] on that play, I was screaming at my offensive coordinator (Eric Snyder) to run the ball but he said he had something with an empty set that forced them to guard one-on-one and it worked out.
“Our defense was the difference tonight, they only ran 14 offensive plays in the first half. I’m proud of our guys tonight. We needed a signature win and tonight we got it.”
Fairmont 7 7 0 0 – 14
University 0 10 3 9 – 19
FSHS – 68-yard interception return (Kick good)
UHS – Noah Braham 3-yard run (Coleman kick)
UHS – Coleman Field Goal
FSHS – Lewis 82-yard run (Kick good)
UHS – Coleman Field Goal
UHS – Coleman 61-yard pass from Hudson (Coleman kick)
RUSHING: Fairmont Senior – Lewis 13-111 TD, Whitehair 7- -18, Tasker 6-46, Johnson 2-3 University – Dalton 15-88, Braham 3-16 TD, A. Dalton 1-4, Hammack 3-9
PASSING: Fairmont – Whitehair 5-13 150 University – Hudson 12-15 148 TD
RECEIVING: Fairmont – Dinger 2-114, Longwell 2-30, Tasker 1-6 University – Hammack 2-7, Coleman 7-134, Braham 1-6