An innocent incompletion midway through the third quarter was Fairmont’s offense in a nutshell Friday against Ashley, a combination of missed opportunities, backwards plays and sloppy execution.
James Atkinson wasn’t sure how his team would respond without four starters after Thursday’s news of a postseason ban and the loss of production showed throughout. The Golden Tornadoes didn't have an answer for the Eagles’ triple option, giving up nearly 500 yards on the ground during a 51-12 loss.
“They executed and we didn’t,” Atkinson said.
Things took a turn for the worse with 9:29 left in the game as Charlton Townsend, Luke Hunt, Naim Bellamy and Silas Oxendine — serving the first of a two-game suspension for fighting — looked on from the Fairmont bench. Senior lineman Drequan Grissett shoved an Ashley player after a whistle and was ejected. Off-setting personal fouls were called and a warning was given to both teams.
Atkinson and Grissett pleaded with officials at the 40-yard line but the call was upheld. Fairmont officials had no comment on the play.
Fairmont's Shemar Barfield opened the contest with a 76-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, but Ashley responded with a scoring drive on its second possession to take the lead for good. Quarterback Chris Kane rushed for 120 yards on 12 carries and scored his team’s first four touchdowns to lead the rout.
“We just wanted to stick to our game plan and keep pounding the triple option,” Kane said. “We didn’t find out about some of those players being out until late in the week. That didn’t affect what we were trying to do offensively.”
The Eagles turned a pair of punt team errors in the first half into touchdowns after taking over at midfield and Fairmont's 9 on consecutive drives. Despite out-gaining the Golden Tornadoes by 200 yards in the first half, Ashley led by just nine points at intermission.
The Eagles put it away on their second drive of the third quarter after Quincy Rhodes spun his way past two linebackers for a 15-yard touchdown. Fairmont safety Zach Caudle led the defense with two interceptions and nine tackles, but like the rest of his teammates, politely declined comment after the game.