By Brian Lacy
FOR THE TIMES
The task Friday night was simple — beat the Crossville Lions, and Fairview would clinch second place in Class 4A, Region 6.
The Aggies made it look easy.
Luke Bailey passed for 202 yards in the first half, and threw three touchdowns in less than five minutes late in the second quarter, as the Aggies took a 32-0 lead at the break and cruised to a 46-7 win over Crossville at Dafford Smith Stadium.
Coach George Redding said he feels fortunate the Aggies will be playing at home when the playoffs start in two weeks.
“Our whole goal this week was to try and speed things up offensively and really try to put some pressure on them,” Redding said. “Those guys are bigger than us, and we were a little worried about the strength level up front. We wanted to work the perimeter and work some of our two-back passing game and work on our pace, and I thought our guys did a good job with that.”
The Aggies broke the game open in the second quarter with three consecutive touchdowns. Trent Shoemaker took a screen pass and raced 63 yards untouched down the Fairview sideline to the end zone with 5:15 left in the quarter.
Following a quick three-and-out and a short Crossville punt, Fairview went 38 yards in six plays and scored when Bailey connected with a diving Bryant Powers for a 13-yard touchdown with 2:12 left in the half.
The Lions drove near midfield on their ensuing possession, but the Aggies used their timeouts wisely and still had 54 seconds to work with once Crossville was forced to punt.
Bailey needed one play and 11 seconds to find Jake Chandler streaking down the left sideline for a 67-yard touchdown pass.
“We ran a play where I could throw it to an out route and get it out of bounds quick then line up and run another play,” Bailey said. “I read the cornerback was staying down, so I hit it over the top.”
Bailey threw the ball only 11 times, but completed eight passes. Chandler caught two for 84 yards, Shoemaker caught one for 63 yards, Powers had three receptions for 37 yards and Dexton Gregory caught two for 18 yards.
“I think one of the things we’ve really improved overall with our team this year is game management,” Redding said. “I think our guys understand what we’re trying to do. Late in the second quarter, our defense did a great job of getting a stop. We utilized our timeouts that we need to, got our offense back on the field and hit a big play. That shows your team is maturing throughout the year.”
It was business as usual for the Aggies once the game started, but Bailey said that wasn’t the case before the opening kickoff.
“I was a little nervous. When we came out in pregame, we couldn’t do anything right,” Bailey said. “We were messing up on everything. We got chewed out right before the game. Coach Redding got us on the right track.”
Fairview scored twice in the first quarter on a 4-yard runs by Shoemaker and Marco Rodriquez. Chandler’s extra-point kicks made it 14-0.
The Aggies rushed the ball 25 times for 147 yards. Rodriguez had 48 yards on five carries, and Bailey ran twice for 36 yards.
The Lions finished with 254 yards total offense, and were held to less than four yards per play. Crossville quarterback Jonathan Cole completed 21 of 30 passes for 144 yards and one touchdown, and rushed for 61 yards on 16 carries. He was sacked three times, twice by Fairview’s Jake Roberts and once by Ethan Widner.
Fairview will have two weeks to prepare for the start of the postseason, but Redding said his team will not look any further ahead than next week’s game against in-county rival West Point.
“All our focus right now is on week 10,” Redding said. “Those guys beat us last year. They see unbelieveable talent week in and week out, so we’re excited about having them here. It’s always a war, and I don’t think this one will be any different.”