The varsity football team welcomed the Fairmont Firebirds to Centerville Stadium last night in a huge National League East showdown. Both teams came in with playoff aspirations in region three based on the outstanding seasons they had enjoyed to that point.
Prior to the game, the annual spirit chain numbers were revealed. Fairmont raise a little over $85,000.00 while Centerville brought in a new school record of a little over $63,000.00. Between the two schools, some very lucky local charities will share in a little over $148,000.00. A truly outstanding effort by both schools.
The visiting Firebirds won the toss and decided to defer their option to the second half giving the Elks the ball to start the game. The offense recovered from an early bad snap which resulted in a significant loss of yardage to get inside the Firebirds’ 10-yard line. A second bad snap on the series prevented them from reaching the end zone. However, junior kicker Brandon Walters calmly drilled a 40-yard field goal to give the Elks a 3-0 lead with 8:17 left in the first quarter. Following a long kickoff return, the Firebirds took the lead when David Stamer ran it in from 18-yards out. Asher Rohm’s extra point gave the Firebirds their only lead of the game at 7-3 with 6:50 remaining in the first quarter. On the ensuing possession, the Elks drove the length of the field and reached the end zone when senior quarterback Alec Grandin scampered in from 3-yards out. Walters’ PAT gave the Elks the lead for good at 10-7 with 2:42 left in the first quarter. That’s when the big momentum shift would change the flow of this game. On the ensuing kickoff, Ross Garrett stripped the ball from the return man, scooped it up at the 9-yard line and ran it in for a touchdown. Walters’ PAT extended the Elks lead to 17-7 with 2:35 left in what was quickly becoming a very entertaining first quarter. That would be the score as the two teams exchanged ends of the field.
In the second quarter, both defenses got involved and forced an exchange of punts. The Elks got the ball back midway through the quarter and drove deep into Firebird territory again. This time, they finished the drive when Grandin muscled in from a yard out. A bad snap on the PAT made the score 23-7 with 3:45 left in the first half. The Firebirds responded when Braden Miller hit Jesse Deglow with a swing pass and Deglow took it in from 21-yards out. Rohm’s PAT pulled the visitors within 23-14 with just 1:10 remaining in the first half. As it turned out, the Firebirds left a little too much time on the clock and the Elks drove downfield again and scored when Grandin went over the top from a yard out with just five seconds remaining before halftime. Walters’ PAT bounced off the left upright sending the teams to the locker room with the Elks leading, 29-14.
As the second half got underway, the Firebirds made a statement right out of the gate when Stamer broke free and scampered in from 51-yards out. Rohm’s PAT cut the Elks lead to eight, 29-21, with 10:17 left in the third quarter. The Elks responded on their next possession and scored when Ross Harmon took it in from 18-yards out. Walters’ PAT extended the Elks lead to 15, 36-21 with 6:30 left in the third quarter. After the Elks stopped Fairmont on fourth down near midfield, the offense struck again when Grandin scored his fourth touchdown of the night from eight yards out. Walters’ PAT put the Elks in front, 43-21, with 2:11 remaining in the third quarter. That would be the score as the teams changed ends of the field for the final twelve minutes.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Firebirds struck for the last time when Herbert Burroughs hauled in a five-yard touchdown pass from Miller. Rohm’s PAT made it 43-28 with 8:43 to play. The Firebirds rolled the dice on the ensuing kickoff and recovered to put the capacity crowd on edge one more time. However, the Elks defense held on four straight plays to give the ball back to the offense. The Elks drove all the way to the three yard line, but turned it over on a fumble. The Firebirds picked up one first down and then could not muster anything else as the Elks held and took over on downs. They proceeded to run out the clock on a very entertaining, 43-28 win.
On Saturday morning at Roush Stadium, the Firebirds won the JV game, 34-20. That was followed by the freshman game which was won by the Elks, 40-18.
Now 8-1 overall and 3-0 in the NL East, the Elks play their final regular season game of the year next Friday night at home when they welcome the 6-3 Beavercreek Beavers for Senior Night. A win for the Elks secures an outright NL East title and the probable #1 seed in the Region 3 playoffs. Kickoff is set for 7:00 PM.