Local Sports, Morgantown, Sports

Morgantown hangs on to top Fairmont Senior, 21-19

FAIRMONT — It came down to the final possession, but Morgantown High’s ground and pound offense did just enough to best Fairmont Senior’s high flying attack as the Mohigans won 21-19 Friday night at East-West Stadium.

On a foggy night in Fairmont, Morgantown (5-1), the No. 6 team in Class AAA, ran the ball 56 times for 242 yards and three goal line touchdowns. It was Fairmont Senior (4-2), the No. 3 team in Class AA, that struck first, however.

The Polar Bears received the opening kickoff and marched right down the field, scoring on a nine-yard pass from Brody Whitehair to Navaughn Jones.

Morgantown responded when running back AJ Thomas punched into the endzone from a yard out to tie the game 7-7 in the second quarter.

MHS recovered the ensuing kickoff when kicker Aiden Stire placed the ball in between Fairmont Senior’s return team and Zaiiden Lockett was able to secure the ball at the bottom of the pile.

“We work a ton on specials teams and kids are doing what we coach them to do,” MHS coach Sean Biser said. “It’s just another phase of football and we put a lot of time and effort into it and it’s helped us all year long.”

Fullback Caleb Nutter later scored from a yard out to put the Mohigans ahead 14-7.

Fairmont Senior missed a 29-yard field goal at the end of the quarter and MHS lead 14-7 at halftime.

The Mohigans came out of the break and used their slow-paced offense to take over seven minutes off the clock and march the entire length of the field before Thomas scored his second touchdown of the game, this time from two yards out.

“Those are must-have plays when you’re that close to the goal line,” Thomas said. “It’s a whole team thing, when you’re in that situation you have to score. It’s just about who wants it more, us or them. On those two plays we score on, we wanted it more.”

Fairmont Senior, which had stagnated on offense since its first drive, showed some life when receiver Dylan Ours caught a screen pass and took it 64 yards for a Polar Bear touchdown. FS missed the extra point, however, their third special teams miscue of the night, and Morgantown led 21-13.

After Morgantown had run its offense at will in the first three quarters, Fairmont Senior’s defense tightended up in the fourth and forced two straight turnover on downs to keep it a one-score contest.

“Outside of the fourth quarter, the third down and fourth down conversions we gave up, I’m sure that’s a staggering number to look at when you’re talking about defensive stats,” FS coach Nick Bartic said. “Those are stops that, when you have the opportunity to make them, you’ve got to make them.”

Fairmont Senior put one final drive together and scored when Jones caught a 25-yard touchdown from Whitehair. That missed extra point from earlier loomed large, however, as the Polar Bears were forced to go for two to try and tie the game. Morgantown’s Jaylon Hill was able to sack Whitehair on the attempt and MHS held on to a 21-19 lead.

The Mohigans’ ground game was able to do enough to eat of the remaining five minutes in the game and MHS sealed it when Fairmont Senior was drawn offside on a fourth-and-two with less than one minute to play.

“We underperformed last week up front,” Biser said of last week’s loss to Wheeling Park. “We did not play our game and to put it in those guys’ hands and finish the game with them, they did a great job. It was very satisfying making plays when you had to make plays.”

Bobby Powell led Morgantown with 98 rushing yards while Thomas had 67 and Nutter finished with 56. Quarterback Maddox Bowers was 5 of 11 for 54 yards and an interception.

“Anyone could have had that game,” Thomas said. “They played hard and we played hard, but I think we just played a little harder.”

Ours was huge for FS, finishing as the team’s leading receiver with 148 yards and rusher with 23 yards.

“I’ve known him since he was a little kid and he single-handedly kept them in the game with his play,” Biser said. “Look at what he did on that screen play. Anytime he touches the ball, he has a chance to take it to the house.”

Whitehair finished 16 of 21 for 250 yards with three scores, but was sacked three times by Morgantown’s defense.

It was a bounce-back win by the Mohigans, who suffered their first loss of the season last week against Wheeling Park. MHS will play another high-powered offense in its next game when Parkersburg South makes the trip to Pony Lewis Field next Friday.

MHS 0 14 7 0 — 21

FS 7 0 6 6 — 19

Scoring Summary

FS Jones pass 9 from Whitehair (Peschl kick)

MHS Thomas run 1 (Stire kick)

MHS Nutter run 1 (Stire kick)

MHS Thomas run 2 (Stire kick)

FS Ours pass 64 from Whitehair (kick miss)

FS Jones pass 25 from Whitehair (pass failed)

Individual Statistics

RUSHING — Morgantown: 56-242-3td (Powell 18-98; Nutter 13-56-td; Phares 5-24; Thomas 17-67-2td; Bowers 3-(-3)). Fairmont Senior: 21-27 (Ours 10-23; Johnson 3-14; Whitehair 8-(-10)).

PASSING — Morgantown: 5-11 55-int (all Bowers). Fairmont Senior: 16-21 250-3td (all Whitehair).

RECEIVING — Morgantown: 5-54 (Phares 2-33; Thomas 1-4; Powell 1-8; Ullom 1-9). Fairmont Senior: 16-250-3td (Ours 8-148-td; Jones 2-34-2td; Michael 1-23; Dinger 5-65).