Fairmont, which has steamrolled its competition over the a majority of the 2011 campaign, is not ready to turn the engine off quite yet.
The Golden Tornadoes (11-0, 5-0 Three Rivers-1A/2A) took a 27-14 lead into halftime, and then rode a stingy defense the rest of the way to cap off an unblemished regular season with a 47-14 rout of league rival St. Pauls (6-5, 3-2) at Hal S. Floyd Stadium.
Senior Alex Gilchrist carried the ball 14 times for 179 yards and three scores — two of which came in the first half — to lead the Fairmont offense, which amassed 314 rushing yards on the night. Tyreke Addison rushed for a touchdown in each half and hauled in a scoring reception in the second stanza to finish off his night with 79 total yards, including 45 receiving yards.
“We are high right now, but we need to fix some mistakes going into the playoffs,” Gilchrist said. “We had better snaps in practice this week and all of the players pretty much put it on themselves to fix things. (The undefeated season) feels good. We’ve made some mistakes, but we’re still rolling. We just put the mistakes behind us and keep rolling."
The Tornadoes, led by a fierce defensive stance from Cain Wilkerson and Charlton Townsend, surrendered just 94 yards of offense in the second half, including just 23 yards (14 passing) in the third quarter alone. Wilkerson finished with 10 tackles (six solo) on the night, including one sack and a tackle for loss. Townsend registered seven tackles, including two for loss, and a fumble recovery. The hosts also got interceptions from Jarrod Neal and Jahvaar Billings, who turned in eight tackles, as well.
Shawn Williams carried the ball 19 times for 148 yards to pace the Bulldogs offense, with Antonio Henderson hauling in two catches for 40 yards and both scores by the visitors.
Fairmont, which had fumbled 14 times in the last two games leading up to Friday evening’s clash, coughed up the ball just two times against the Bulldogs, including one in the second half when the game was already well in hand. St. Pauls fumbled the ball seven times in the outing, but lost just one.
Gilchrist shouldered much of the load in the opening quarter, but it was Demetrius Washington’s 19-yard pass to Addison that put the first points of the contest up on the board midway through the period. St. Pauls would cut into that lead on a 25-yard scoring pass just eight seconds into the second period, but the Tornadoes would take over after that, pushing its lead out to three touchdowns, 27-6, after two Gilchrist rushing touchdowns and a 55-yard pick-six by Neal.
Jacob Locklear hooked up with Henderson for the second time with under a minute left before the intermission to make it a respectable 27-14 ballgame at the break.
Fairmont had pushed its advantage out to an insurmountable 41-14 cushion at the end of the third quarter on scores from Addison and Gilchrist, and then capped the scoring on the night with Addison’s short scamper just more than three minutes into the third quarter.
“We took care of the football a lot better tonight,” said Fairmont head coach Keith Wood. “Our kids were resilient on defense tonight – they made plays and they flew to the ball. We just had a lot of playmakers tonight. (The conference title) feels great. These kids have worked so hard and they deserve it.”