FAIRMONT — Naim Bellamy and a gang of Fairmont defenders picked themselves off the turf while the opposing quarterback remained on his knees inches shy of the goal line.
The Golden Tornadoes’ front seven had one more stop in them Friday night and it was good enough to preserve a 42-40 overtime victory over the Ashley Screaming Eagles.
“I thought the defense stepped up with a great effort because that’s a great running football team,” first-year Fairmont coach Randy Ragland said. “They really made play in key situations and helped us overcome being flat a little on offense.”
After dodging a threat with a blocked field goal on an untimed down following a roughing the kicker penalty in regulation, Fairmont (3-0) snuffed out Chris Kane’s keeper from the 1 after the Eagles were forced to go for two on their first possession of the extra session.
Coupled with Fairmont quarterback Jarrod Neal’s two-point conversion burst, his fourth touchdown pass of the game — an 8-yard strike to Shyheim Hines on the second play of overtime — proved the difference.
“We’ve got good kids and they work so hard,” Ragland said. “I told them at halftime that they’ve earned the right to play in games like this with the work they’ve put in this summer. I was proud of the way we fought back.”
The Golden Tornadoes limited the Eagles (1-2) to 250 yards rushing, two weeks after giving up double that amount against a similar option-based offense in the opener. Ashley led 26-18 after three quarters before Neal led Fairmont on consecutive scoring drives in the final frame to seize a 34-26 advantage.
The Eagles responded with a clock-eating 11-play touchdown drive of their own, pulling within two on Jesse Jewell’s 8-yard burst to the end zone with 1:55 remaining. Jewell’s two-point conversion knotted the game and Ashley retained possession after a quick three-and-out from the home team.
Ashley’s Seth Kujawski missed a 47-yard field goal wide right with six seconds left in the fourth quarter, but had a chance to redeem himself after being roughed by a Fairmont defensive back coming around the edge.
Kujawski’s ensuing untimed try was tipped at the line and barely reached the end zone as Fairmont forced overtime.
Neal, who had a county-leading 11 touchdown passes coming in, finished with 313 yards through the air and four scores. He added a 30-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that tied the game for the Golden Tornadoes.
Fairmont 42, Ashley 40 OT
Ashley 13 6 7 8 6 — 40
Fairmont 12 6 0 16 8 — 42
ASH — Chris Kane 7 run (kick blocked)
FMT — Shemar Barfield 72 pass from Jarrod Neal (pass failed)
ASH — Daniel Andrews 6 run (Seth Kujawski kick)
FMT — Shyheim Hines 38 pass from Neal (pass failed)
FMT — Cedrique Baldwin 6 run (pass failed)
ASH — Kane 5 run (run failed)
ASH — Anthony Andrews 12 run (Kujawski kick)
FMT — Neal 30 run (Quenton Walker run)
FMT — Ethan Baldwin 17 pass from Neal (Neal run)
ASH — Jesse Jewell 8 run (Jewell run)
FMT — Hines 8 pass from Neal (Neal run)
ASH — Kane 1 run (run failed)
RUSHING: Ashley — Jewell 19-128, Kane 17-71, Ant. Andrews 11-51. Fairmont — C. Baldwin 10-41, Walker 6-15.
PASSING: Ashley — Kane 3-12-1-60. Fairmont — Neal 20-34-2-313.
RECEIVING: Ashley — Andrews 1-17. Fairmont — Baldwin 6-100, Hines 6-62, Barfield 2-79, Fields 4-69.
RECORDS: Ashley 1-2; Fairmont 3-0.