Trojans fall in opening round gameBig plays hurt Fairfield in Pella
“Obviously the first quarter went pretty well. We were down by one touchdown and we were pretty pumped. It was the big plays that made it happen for them. That was the story of the rest of the game. We couldn’t turn it around.”
Those are the words of senior tight end Vince Horras as he left the field for the final time. Pella defeated Fairfield 56-14 in the first round of the playoffs Wednesday, on a dismal rain soaked night. Seniors embraced one another as they left the field, and for some it was the final time they would strap up their pads.
The Trojans marched into Pella as a huge underdog with nothing to lose. An early interception by Jonathan Hoehne gave the Trojans momentum, but momentum was doused by Pella quarterback Noah Clayberg. A four-yard touchdown run and a field position induced punt return by Clayberg gave Pella a 14-0 lead. On the Dutch’s next drive, he ran for another touchdown, this one for 43 yards. Clayberg ran for 215 yards and five touchdowns on the night.
Fairfield got back into the game on the ensuing kickoff when it was returned 85 yards for a touchdown by Jordan Reid. The Trojans defense forced a punt, and then Fairfield completed its best offensive possession of the night. Quarterback Cameron Baumann completed three passes of 15 yards or more, two of them on third down, and got the Trojans in scoring position. Reid, Alex Crile, and Alex Shier were on the receiving end. Baumann ran in a one-yard quarterback draw to make the game 21-14.
Pella struck back quickly with two touchdowns, essentially squeezing the air out of the Fairfield sideline.
“I thought our kids played hard in the first half,” coach Mike Schenck said. “We got down 21-0 and were able to manage get back in the game. Their next couple touchdowns deflated us, you could say.”
Right before halftime, a completion to Crile put the Trojans in position to kick a last second field goal. Crile hit the ground and the officials blew the whistle with approximately two seconds on the clock, only for the clock to run out. The Trojans’ attempt at calling timeout went unheeded. Fairfield wanted time put back on the clock, but the referees said no.
“I wish we would have had the opportunity to kick a field goal at the end of the first half,” Schenck said. “I think we could have captured some momentum back.”
The referees told the Fairfield coaching staff there wasn’t any reason the clock operator should be expected to react that quickly and stop the clock. Normally if the referees deem there should be time on the clock, then they are inclined to ask the clock operator to add time. The clock should have been stopped not only because Fairfield got a first down, but also because the coaching staff called timeout. They deemed it unnecessary to add the time back, which was a head scratching decision in the minds of Fairfield fans to say the least.
As it stood, the Trojans went into halftime down 35-14.
Pella didn’t waste any time putting up points in the second half. Soon the continuous clock was in affect. In an attempt to put points on the board, Baumann threw three interceptions in latter portion of the game. He went 14-33 overall with 155 yards. Schenck was proud of the way his freshman quarterback handled the big moment.
“I think inexperience showed a little bit tonight,” Schenck said. “In all fairness to him he did a nice job. We had dropped passes, especially in the first couple of possessions where we maybe could have went down and scored.”
After starting 1-4 on the season, the Trojans rattled off three straight district wins to earn a playoff spot. Schenck believes every game can be a learning experience.
“Getting this playoff experience will pay dividends later down the road,” Schenck said. “I think we played hard but we missed a lot of tackles. In the second half when Pella scored on their first drive our kids got let down, and it showed.”
Baumann led the team in rushing with 28 yards. Horras led the squad in receptions with five that went for 43 yards. Jordan Whitney led the defense in tackles with five.
Fairfield finishes the season with a 4-6 record.