By Brian Lacy
For The Times
Fairview entered the fourth quarter of Friday night’s playoff game with an upset in sight, but Haleyville scored 20 unanswered points to pull away for a 37-6 victory.
Quarterback Connor Kiser struggled at times but came up big when the Lions (10-1) needed him most. He completed a 13-yard touchdown pass on third-and-9 in the first quarter, a 35-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-15 in the second quarter and scrambled 21 yards for a touchdown on third-and-10 in the fourth quarter.
Fairview coach George Redding said his team simply didn’t make enough big plays in the game’s key moments.
“We got in some situations that we needed to be and just couldn’t get our guys off the field,” Redding said. “Some of the mistakes that led to those scores were self-inflicted, and those are things you can’t have happen, especially in the playoffs.”
The Lions pulled away late thanks to a 71-yard punt return touchdown by Brady Sherrill and a 30-yard interception return for a score by Griffin McCarley — his second pick of the night.
Trailing 17-6 at halftime, the Aggies forced a three-and-out by the Lions to start the third quarter. Two completions from Hayden Maples to Ethan Arbet, a pass interference penalty and a 24-yard run by Harris moved Fairview to the Lions’ 7-yard line. The Aggies reached the 2-yard line, but a 2-yard loss on third down and an incomplete pass on fourth down spoiled their best chance of launching a comeback.
“That could have been a pivotal point in the game if we could have overcome that,” Redding said. “I truly believe every game is usually won over four or five plays, and we definitely could have picked four or five plays from tonight and it would have been a totally different situation.”
Fairview’s only touchdown came with 9:24 left in the second quarter on a 7-yard run by Austin Harris, who broke two tackles at the line of scrimmage and spun away from a third defender to land in the end zone. The missed extra-point kick kept Haleyville on top 7-6.
On the ensuing drive, the Lions increased their lead to 14-6 when Kiser found Dillon Posey wide open in the middle of the field for a 35-yard touchdown on fourth-and-15.
Haleyville started the scoring late in the first quarter after McCarley intercepted a pass at the 20-yard line and returned it across midfield. Kiser capped a four-play, 48-yard drive with a 13-yard pass to Jonas Dodd on third-and-9.
Kiser finished 14-of-29 passing for 209 yards and two touchdowns and led the Lions with 59 yard rushing on nine carries.
Fairview had a tough time on offense, gaining 174 yards for the night. Maples completed 12 of 25 passes for 116 yards and was intercepted three times. Harris finished with 57 rushing yards on 15 carries to lead the Aggies, whiched wrapped up the season with a 5-6 record.