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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 22, 2017

Sweet smell of victory

Last-second field goal propels Trojans to 23-20 win
By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Sep 18, 2017
Photo by: ANDY HALLMAN/Ledger photo Brittan Bowman (14) holds the ball for Xavier Kapijimpanga before he kicks it through the uprights on an extra point to tie the game at 20-20 in the second quarter. Kapijimpanga kicked the game-winning field goal with four seconds left to play in the fourth. Visible in the background are members of the Fairfield High School marching band preparing for their halftime routine.

Fairfield needed a pick-me-up after starting the season 0-3. On Friday, the Trojans received exactly that when they gutted out an impressive win against Keokuk in front of their hometown fans.

Keokuk took control of the game early, scoring 20 points in the first quarter. That was all the Trojan defense would allow as Fairfield kept the Chiefs off the scoreboard during the final 36 minutes.

After trailing by 14 to start the second quarter, the Trojans scored two touchdowns in the second to tie the game at 20-20. Neither team scored in the third, and it looked like that might continue in the fourth until Fairfield made one final drive down the field.

 

Field goal attempt

The Trojans advanced the ball deep into Keokuk territory, getting as far as the 5-yard line. A couple failed attempts at a touchdown set up fourth down with only four seconds left to play. Head Coach Matt Jones called on his field-goal kicker Xavier Kapijimpanga to put one through the uprights.

It was a heavy responsibility to put on a freshman. The young man had attempted only one field goal this season, and now he was asked to make one with the game on the line.

The ball was marked on the left hash mark, setting up an awkward angle. The Trojans took a delay-of-game penalty, which cost them 5 yards but set up an easier angle for Kapijimpanga’s kick.

Brittan Bowman received the snap, tilted the ball just right, and let Kapijimpanga give it a swift boot. The Trojan faithful saw the ball sail through the uprights, and erupted into a frenzy.

Keokuk’s only hope was to run back the ensuing kickoff. The Trojan defense smothered the Chief’s ball carrier at midfield. Fairfield’s bench rushed the field to celebrate the come-from-behind victory.

Kapijimpanga, the hero of the game, was not on the team when the season began. He approached Coach Jones during Meet the Trojans on Aug. 17 to see if the team needed a kicker.

“I gladly told him we would like to have him on the team, and he’s been a great addition,” said the coach.

Did the Trojans get the delay-of-game penalty on purpose to set up a easier kick?

“It worked out well to get the delay and get a bit more time to get set and get lined up,” Coach Jones said. “The 5 yards at that distance didn’t matter much, as Xavier has a pretty good leg. I’d like to tell you it was all by design, but it wasn’t.”

 

Scoring

The Chiefs used a few big plays to score touchdowns. Their first was on a punt return that Jamin Klose ran back 72 yards for the first points of the game with 4:14 left to play in the first. Less than two minutes later, Keokuk had the ball again, and handed it to Braylon Martinez, who ran it in from 68 yards out.

The Trojans blocked the point-after attempt, and that gave them a little momentum going into their next possession. Tristin Waugh ran in a 65-yard touchdown for Fairfield’s first score. The point after attempt was no good, making the score 13-6. Keokuk would add another touchdown that quarter on a 60-yard run from Corey Skinner to make the score 20-6.

 

Drew Martin

Fairfield hit back on its next drive, when Carson Crile landed a 20-yard pass to Drew Martin for a touchdown. Martin, a sophomore, had perhaps the best game of his young career Friday. Not only did he catch a touchdown pass, he menaced Keokuk’s defense all night long, amassing 15.5 tackles, one sack, and 5.5 tackles for a loss.

“The stops behind the line of scrimmage are very valuable, as they are big momentum swingers and put the offense behind the chains,” said Coach Jones. “Drew is a kid who has worked hard and is very smart. He is also getting better and better fundamentally.”

Later in the second quarter, Crile hit Hunter Hoskins on a pass at midfield that the senior took all the way to the 2-yard line before he was finally pushed out of bounds. A few plays later, Waugh broke through the defensive line and into the endzone. With the extra point from Kapijimpanga, the Trojans had made a brand-new ballgame at 20-20.

 

Team Stats

Fairfield seems to be more comfortable biting off chunks of territory with the pass, and the team was quite successful with that strategy Friday. The Trojans gained 198 of their 305 yards through the air, and averaged 18 yards per completion.

Keokuk, on the other hand, attacked mostly with the run, which accounted for 224 of its 292 yards. The Chiefs ran the ball 33 times, averaging 6.8 yards per carry. The Trojans ran it 28 times and gained 3.8 yards per carry.

One area where Keokuk had the edge was penalties. The Chiefs were penalized six times for 55 yards, while the Trojans lost 85 yards thanks to 11 penalties.

Each team fumbled the ball once and lost it. Fairfield threw one interception.

Neither team was successful converting on third down. The Trojans converted two of their 16 attempts, and the Chiefs managed only one of 13.

Crile completed 11 of his 22 passes for 198 yards, including one touchdown. Coach Jones complimented Crile on his accurate throws. Hoskins caught seven passes for 101 yards.

 

Tristin Waugh

Waugh caught one pass, and it was a big one, for 62 yards late in the fourth quarter to set up Kapijimpanga’s field goal.

“Tristin had a tremendous game on both sides of the ball,” said the Trojan skipper. “He is a tough runner and is hard to bring down. Defensively, Tristin had a great game as well. His takeoff, pad level, and hands were much improved in this game vs. Keokuk.”

Martin caught three passes for 35 yards, including a touchdown.

Waugh was the team’s leading rusher with 131 yards on 19 carries, good for an average of 6.9.

 

Defensive effort

Apart from Martin’s tremendous performance on defense, Coach Jones received a great effort from junior Kosta Papazoglou, who had six tackles, including one for a loss. Saban Simons had four, and Brendon Lunsford had 3.5. Waugh and Cole Engle each had 2.5.

Hoskins, Caden Jones and Carter Ferrel each had two.

Hoskins made what his coach called a “tremendous defensive hustle play” from the backside that saved what could have been a Keokuk touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Other Trojans recording tackles were Ashton Lankford, Aaron Haines, Maxwell Sullivan, Austin Simpson, Collin Breen and Reese Klehm. Hoskins punted 11 times, amassing 408 yards for an average of 37.1 yards per kick.

Leone Gichure returned two punts for 12 yards. Hoskins returned four for 11 yards.

Hoskins returned two kickoffs for 92 yards. Caden Jones had one for 12.

Coach Jones said the offensive line stepped up for the team, and that includes Klehm, Nic Schillerstrom, Lunsford, Lankford and Simpson. He also credited Simpson and Waugh with playing a big role in blocking a Keokuk field goal attempt late in the game.

“Kosta Papazoglou had his best game at inside linebacker. Cole Engle is constantly hustling, hitting, and making plays,” said the coach. “I had a line judge on our side that told me that our sideline was the most enthusiastic and loud that he had ever seen. That was a true compliment because we have asked our players to be behind their teammates and cheer them on. It’s truly a team game and everyone has a role.”

The Trojans’ next contest is on the road Friday in Washington. The Demons began the year 3-0 but were humbled in their 40-0 loss to Solon last Friday.

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