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November 20, 2013

Polar Bears overwhelm a worthy opponent

FAIRMONT — Fairmont Senior has made a habit of lighting up the scoreboard this season.

In 10 regular-season games, the Polar Bears outscored their opponents by a combined margin of 401-146 and racked up more than 40 points in seven of their eight wins.

So when Fairmont Senior jumped out to an early 42-0 lead in the first round of the playoffs, the lopsided score was not surprising.

The fact that it came against Keyser, however, was a bit unexpected.

No. 7 Fairmont Senior and No. 10 Keyser were the two closest-seeded teams in the opening round of the playoffs. Naturally, one would expect a close competition.

But by the second quarter the closest thing to a contest was the jostling for seats at nearby restaurants after so many fans left the blowout early.

But it wasn’t so much the Golden Tornado’s seed as it was their resume that made the blowout so impressive. Keyser had lost just three games coming into Friday. All three losses came against top-tier competition.

Loss 1: Wheeling Park is a AAA playoff team that lost just one game by three points to Morgantown.

Loss 2: Fort Hill is an undefeated team from Maryland.

Loss 3: Bridgeport has lost just one game to Wheeling Park.

“Coming in, that wasn’t a 10 seed,” coach J.L. Abbott said after the Polar Bears’ 49-28 victory. “They came in here and had three losses. Their opponents had only lost two games.”

Quarterback Austin Norman threw for four touchdowns and ran for a fifth, Neil Scherich caught two touchdown passes and Luke Hrapchak rushed for a touchdown to stretch the lead.

Keyser finally scored with less than a minute remaining in the first half. Up until that point, the Polar Bears’ worst play was intercepting a pass on fourth down instead of breaking it up.

That’s right — forcing a turnover was their worst play.

“Everybody did their job. All 11 people, every sub, everybody did their job,” senior tight end Hrapchak said. “I know how good we can be as a team.”

The Polar Bears have little time to celebrate their blowout victory. Saturday they’ll head to Bridgeport without starting quarterback Austin Norman.

Forget a blowout in that one. Should the Polar Bears knock off the No. 2 seed, even by a single point, that would make just as big of a statement as their 49-point romp last Friday.

Email Mike DeFabo at mdefabo@timeswv.com or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.

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