Fairfield’s upset bid falls short in playoff opener
WINTERSET — The Trojans played with guts, they played with fire, and they didn’t play at all like an underdog in the opening round of the Class 3A playoffs.
Still, once all three were added up it wasn’t enough, and Fairfield saw its season come to an end Wednesday with a 28-7 loss to Winterset at Charles McGaffin Field in Winterset.
The Trojans (3-7) went toe-to-toe with the District 8 champions for most of the game, and even came within seven points in the fourth quarter. But as quickly as Fairfield seemed to grab the momentum, Winterset took it back and scored two touchdowns in the final minutes to stave off the Fairfield comeback.
“I’m extremely proud of how the kids played,” Fairfield head coach Mike Schenck said following the game. “Defensively, I think they played their best game of the season. They flew to the ball all night long.”
Senior linebackers Aaron Gevock and Seth Davisson led the Trojans with nine and seven tackles, respectively, and linemen Jake Mineart and Gabe Jaquez wreaked havoc in the backfield with several tackles for a loss.
The Trojans also ran their offense well — gaining 326 total yards compared to 386 for Winterset — but turnovers once again plagued them.
The pesky host defense forced four turnovers on interceptions, and no one was bigger for the Huskies than senior defensive back Lucas Nolan, who had three of them. When the game was anybody’s in the second quarter, Nolan returned one of his three picks 50 yards for a touchdown to put Winterset on top 14-0.
The 14-0 deficit would stay firm up until the first play of the fourth quarter, when Vince Horras caught a 40-yard touchdown pass from Dillon Fry. Horras made the grab along the sideline, and the junior tightroped his way into the end zone while barreling past defenders the final 20 yards.
The touchdown capped a breakout game for the tight end, who finished with a team-leading five receptions for 80 yards.
“It was his best game of the year. He was running people over, and I think it’s going to be where he starts out next year. He really showed what he can do,” said Schenck.
Although Horras’ touchdown was the boost Fairfield had been looking for, Winterset fired back with a big pass play of its own. Mere seconds after Fairfield cut the deficit to 14-7, Cory Briney found Nolan through the air for a 63-yard touchdown. The score made it 21-7 Winterset with 11:29 left in the game, and Fairfield never recovered.
“That was the big killer for us,” Schenck said.
With eight minutes remaining, Fairfield again marched into Winterset territory — converting on fourth downs twice — but came up short with a turnover on downs at the Winterset 40.
On the ensuing drive, Winterset took advantage of its short field and tacked on one final touchdown to clinch the game. Briney scored on a 1-yard quarterback keeper — his second of the day.
The Trojans also moved the football efficiently in the first half and twice entered Winterset’s red zone, only to come up empty both times. With the score at 0-all in the first quarter, Fairfield made it to the 4-yard line only to be intercepted on fourth and goal. At the end of the second period, a diving, 29-yard catch by Justin Hammes set Fairfield up at the Winterset 18 with 4 seconds to go. Fry then threw a pass into the end zone to Spencer Peterman as time expired, but the catch was ruled just out of bounds.
Schenck thought the halftime score could’ve been 14-0 Fairfield if not for a few questionable calls.
“In the first half things just didn’t go our way,” said Schenck. “There were several times [the referees] made calls that we felt should’ve gone the other way. We thought Peterman scored that touchdown, which was one of them.”
Fry finished the game 14-of-30 passing for 177 yards, and despite an injury early in the game used his legs to convert on several first downs. The senior rushed for 55 yards on 11 attempts.
“I thought Dillon played with a lot of guts,” said Schenck. “He hurt his back in the game and he refused to go out.”
Also for Fairfield, Mason Carnahan gained 84 yards on 21 carries, and the senior caught a 14-yard pass. Peterman had four grabs for 30 yards, Hammes made two catches for 45 yards and Alex Shier caught one for eight.
Defensively, Narendra Martin, Josh Dimmitt and Jonny Swanson made five stops apiece. Mineart, Jaquez, Kooper Dahlstrom and Hammes each had four.
Junior kicker Matt Carr was 1-for-1 on extra point attempts.
The Huskies (7-3) advance to the second round and will host Washington (7-3) next Monday. The Demons topped Norwalk 28-14 on Wednesday.
2nd — 9:24 (W) Briney 1-run (Coffman kick); 7:59 (W) Nolan 50-interception return (Coffman kick)
4th — 11:46 (FF) Fry 40-pass to Horras (Carr kick); 11:29 (W) Briney 63-pass to Nolan (Coffman kick); 1:40 (W) Briney 1-run (Coffman kick)
Rushing — (FF) Carnahan 21-84, Fry 11-55, Dahlstrom 1-6, Hammel 1-4; (W) Kaldenberg 30-190, Porter 11-40, Forgy 2-23, Briney 4-7 (2TD)
Passing — (FF) Fry 14-30-177 (TD); (W) Briney 8-18-126 (TD)
Receiving — (FF) Horras 5-80 (TD), Peterman 4-30, Hammes 2-45, Carnahan 1-14, Shier 1-8; (W) Gilliand 4-39, Nolan 1-63, Porter 1-16, Jackson 1-8, Kaldenberg 1-0
Tackles — (FF) Gevock 9, Davisson 7, Martin 5, Dimmitt 5, Swanson 5, Mineart 4, Jaquez 4, Dahlstrom 4, Hammes 4, Scott 2, Cohen 2