By Brian Lacy
For The Times
Opportunity knocked at the Fairview’s door Friday night, but the Aggies could not answer, falling 16-12 to Locust Fork at Dafford Smith Stadium.
A dropped touchdown pass, two red-zone turnovers — including a fumble inside the 1-yard line — and a potential fumble recovery that rolled harmlessly out of bounds were just a few of the opportunities that were fresh on the mind of Fairview coach George Redding after the game.
“It’s one of those things that when we finally get something going, we hurt ourselves,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of those. Some of that comes with growing pains. Our guys gave tremendous effort in my opinion in the second half, but we weren’t able to get it done at the level we need to get it done at.
“The sooner we can find some consistency among what we’re trying to do, the better we will be.”
Trailing 16-6 at halftime, the Aggies seized momentum midway through the third quarter, stuffing the Hornets near midfield on fourth-and-inches. On the ensuing drive, Fairview quarterback Hayden Maples completed a 27-yard pass on fourth down to a leaping Ethan Arbet, who landed inside the 1-yard line. On the next play, the Hornets forced a fumble and came out of the pile with the ball.
Fairview’s defense held strong, and the Hornets punted out of the end zone. The Aggies took advantage of good field position, driving 44 yards in five plays before Sambo Woods plowed into the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown run with 10:03 left in the fourth quarter.
“In the second half, I thought we played well defensively,” Redding said. “We came up and made some plays and gave us some opportunities on offense to do what we needed to do.”
The Aggies got the ball back with 5:55 left to play and drove 22 yards to the Locust Fork 31, but the drive stalled after a short run and three incomplete passes.
Another defensive stand gave Fairview one last chance, needing to drive 95 yards with no timeouts and 1:46 remaining on the clock. Maples and Arbet connected for 20 yards on the first play of the drive. Ethan Widner picked up another first down with two short receptions on the next two plays, but the Aggies couldn’t get any further than the 36-yard line. After four incomplete passes, the Hornets regained possession with 26 seconds left.
“It’s one of those things where the defense did what we needed to do in the second half to give us a chance,” Redding said. “We just couldn’t get it done on the other side of the ball.”
The Aggies trailed 13-0 after the first quarter but scored on the first play of the following frame when Maples connected with Widner for a 26-yard touchdown on fourth-and-15.
Fairview gained more yards than Locust Fork (276-264) and dominated the second half (188-72) while holding the Hornets scoreless.
Maples finished 13 of 26 through the air for 224 yards with one interception and one touchdown. He was also sacked four times. Widner caught nine passes for 131 yards and one touchdown, while Arbet caught two for 47 yards. Hunter Brewer (31 yards) and Bailey Strong (15 yards) each had one reception. Running back Austin Harris had a busy night, carrying the ball 23 times for 86 yards.
Locust Fork quarterback Kyle Hornbuckle completed 5 of 13 passes for 76 yards, rushed for a 12-yard touchdown in the first quarter and kicked a 27-yard field goal in the second quarter.
The Hornets rushed 37 times for 188 yards. They were led by senior Joshua Tawbush’s 80 yards on 10 carries, as well as junior Shiloh Bell, who ran 13 times for 76 yards and one touchdown.
Fairview (1-3, 1-2 in Class 4A, Region 6) will host county-rival Holly Pond next Friday.