Local Sports, Sports, University

UHS rally against Fairmont Senior comes up short on final play

MORGANTOWN — It was a thrilling game in favor of the University High football team a week ago, as John Coleman split the uprights as time expired to beat Wheeling Park on the road.

A week later, Fairmont Senior pulled the late-game heroics, as Cannon Dinger snatched an interception in his own end zone on the final play of the game to lead the Polar Bears to a 27-23 victory over the Hawks at Mylan Pharmaceuticals Stadium.

“Last week, we won a tremendous high school football game, and this week, we lost a tremendous high school football game,” UHS head coach John Kelley said. “It’s a shame we had to lose that one.”

It was a back-and-forth second half after both teams were held in check through the first two quarters. The Polar Bears (4-1) held a 7-3 lead heading into the locker room, but costly mistakes offensively prevented points on each side.

FSHS fumbled away what looked to be a long touchdown on their first drive, as Cannon Dinger was stripped after a long pass play, and it was recovered by UHS’s John Coleman.

Later, FSHS quarterback Jordan Whitehair threw an interception deep in his own territory, but this is where the Hawks (2-3) struggled in the first half.

They had it inside the Polar Bears’ 10-yard line twice, but only came away with three points.

The mistakes continued for FSHS in the second half as Whitehair threw another interception over the middle, this time by Kylan Blunt, who returned it 19 yards for a touchdown.

UHS finally took the lead on their next possession, but quarterback Luke Hudson took the ball all the way to the 1-yard line before fumbling, but Johnny-on-the-spot yet again, Coleman recovered it in the end zone for a score.

“I thought our defense was terrific all night and I thought our offense was sporadically good,” Kelley said.

However, FSHS running back Damani Johnson began to insert himself into the game, scoring two touchdowns in the second half, include a 27-yard scamper for the go-ahead TD with less than a minute to go.

Earlier in the drive, the Polar Bears faced a 4th and 12 that could have sealed the win for the Hawks, but Whitehair found Dylan Ours on the sideline for a 16-yard completion to move the chains.

On the final, thrilling possession for UHS, two pass interference penalties puts the Hawks in position at the FSHS 11-yard line, but Dinger sealed it with his pick.

Whitehair finished with 224 yards passing, with Dinger on the receiving end of 76 of those.

Johnson finished with 76 yards on the ground along with his two touchdowns.

For UHS, Hudson threw for 176 yards and a touchdown to Coleman, while also leading the team in rushing with 51 yards.

“They’re battling and they’re doing the best they can,” Kelley said. “We’ve got one next week that we should win, on paper. I’m upset we lost and how we lost, but at the same time, this was a great game.”

Box score
Fairmont Senior 0 7 13 7–27
University 0 3 13 7–23

FS–Whitehair 1 run (Peschl kick)
UHS–Coleman 20 field goal
FSHS–Michael 18 pass from Whitehair (kick failed)
UHS–Kylan Blunt 19 interception return (conversion no good)
UHS–Coleman fumble recovery (Coleman kick)
FS–Johnson 14 run (Peschl kick)
UHS–Coleman 25 pass from Hudson (Coleman kick)
FS–Johnson 27 run (Peschl kick)

RUSHING: Fairmont—Whitehair 15-14 TD; Johnson 16-76 2 TD; Wilson 2-6; Bigelow 1-4; Amos 1-(-3). UHS—Hudson 9-51; M. Lewis 8-46; Byrer 3-3; Kehler 4-2; Coleman 1-1 TD.
PASSING: Fairmont— Whitehair 17-30-2 224 TD. UHS— Hudson 13-32-1 176 TD.
RECEIVING: Fairmont— Dinger 4-76; Wilson 1-5; Michael 4-54 TD; Johnson 5-34; Ours 2-23; Watson 1-22. UHS— E. Jackson 6-82; Coleman 2-26 TD; M. Lewis 1-17; Garbart 1-8; Kehler 2-49; K. Lewis 1-5.