Fans of offensive football here Saturday were appalled.
In a game reminiscent of one played decades ago, Concord celebrated the opening of the revamped June O. Shott Field at Callaghan Stadium by eking out a 13-10 double-overtime victory over Fairmont State.
The win came after the teams traded field goals in the initial extra session. First, Concord’s Zach Boyd nailed a 32-yarder to give the Mountain Lions’ a 10-7 advantage. FSU, however, answered right back with a 23-yarder off the foot of Drew Cochran to knot the score at 10.
In the first overtime it looked as if FSU might have a chance to end the game with a touchdown. However, on second-and-four from the Concord seven Fairmont was flagged for illegal procedure and the ball was moved back to the 12. Two Wendell Johnson runs netted just six yards and facing fourth-and-three from the Mountain Lion six-yard line the Falcons were forced to go for the game-tying field goal.
In the second overtime Fairmont had the ball first. On the Falcons’ first play backup quarterback Willie McGee, who entered the game with 4:02 left in the second quarter after starter John Rahl suffered a mild concussion, attempted to hook up with Robbie Graham, but Concord free safety Ola Adams picked the ball off and returned it 51 yards to end Fairmont’s possession.
Concord then used Tank Tunstalle to move the ball exclusively on the ground to the FSU 17 which set the stage once again for Boyd, who calmly nailed the game-winner from 35 yards away.
“It was a helluva game,” said a happy Concord coach Greg Quick. “It certainly wasn’t an offensive showdown, but it was exciting. I was about ready to give up my headset, get a Coke and a popcorn and go up in the stands and enjoy it.
“Historically Fairmont and Concord have had some great games and it seems like whoever has the home field advantage lately has won it. A year ago we went up there and got our butts kicked. I mean we really were embarrassed. For the coaching staff there was something in this, but for the kids there was a lot at stake. I’m happy for them.”
The win, the first of the season for the Mountain Lions, improved them to 1-2 on the year and to 1-0 in the West Virginia Conference. FSU, on the other hand, slipped to 0-3 overall and to 0-1 in the league.
Fairmont appeared poised and ready to take control of the game from the outset. The Falcons took the opening kickoff and quickly marched 77 yards in eight plays and scored on a 19-yard touchdown run by Johnson, who finished with a season-high 139 yards on 36 carries.
From there, though, things went downhill quickly for the Falcons on offense. Fairmont finished with just 158 total yards on 62 plays, an average of just 2.5 per play. After the first drive FSU ran 54 plays and netted just 81 yards. The Falcons’ passing attack was nonexistent Saturday as FSU completed just 4-of-16 passes for 18 yards in the loss. Fairmont also was a dismal 0-of-14 on third down conversions.
Through three quarters of play FSU managed just six first downs and five of those came on the opening drive. The sixth was a result of an offsides penalty on Concord. Fairmont finished with 11 first downs.
The saving grace for the Falcons, however, was that Concord was equally ineffective on offense. The Mountain Lions finished with 214 total yards on 66 plays, an average of 3.2 yards per play and were only 2-of-16 on third down conversions.
CU’s only TD came after an FSU fumble at the Falcons’ 38-yard line early in the second quarter. On the fifth play after the turnover, Concord quarterback Rusty Coeburn connected with Dustin Greenwood on a 24-yard scoring pass.
Concord actually had two golden opportunities to win the game in regulation. Late in the third quarter the Mountain Lions had a first-and-goal at the Fairmont two-yard line, but couldn’t get the ball in on three running plays and a fourth-down pass which was broken up in the end zone by FSU’s Andre Pope.
On the Mountain Lions’ next drive they faced a fourth-and-one situation at the Fairmont 12. Again Quick elected not to turn to Boyd for a field goal attempt and went for it instead on a pass to the end zone which this time was intercepted by Pope.
“The fact that he (Boyd) hit two (field goals) in overtime makes me look real smart doesn’t it?” said Quick with a chuckle. “I was trying to create a little bit of drama here with our field opening.
“Seriously, though, on the first one I talked to Mike (Gutelius) our defensive coordinator and I said ‘I’m going to take a shot here and if we don’t get it we’re going to leave them 98 yards away.’ If we had made the field goal there we would’ve had to kickoff and we might have given up the field position advantage. I thought it would take more than three points to win the football game and I was wrong. Anyone who wants to second-guess me can.
“On the second one maybe I should’ve kicked it. In hindsight I should’ve kicked it, but it was fourth-and-one and I felt like we still had the field position advantage and we were playing good defense. At critical times today we constantly gave them long fields to work with and we were playing time and field position. We were playing old-time football. There probably wasn’t a lot of difference in this game and the ones played in 1966, 1956 or 1946. In the end, though, it all worked out for us.”
After Concord’s second straight failed fourth down attempt, Fairmont marched the ball from its own 20 to the Mountain Lion 35-yard line where Cochran attempted a potential game-winning field goal from 52 yards away with 3:34 remaining. The kick, though, was a little short and wide right.
“We got some guys banged up on offense today and we had some freshman linemen in there and our backup quarterback and they were trying to step up and make plays, but honestly we didn’t do very well on offense after our first drive,” said Falcon coach Rusty Elliott. “Defensively, I thought our kids played pretty daggone tough. We hate to leave them out there hanging like we did, but boy what a great job they did. They made two huge fourth down stops for us there late in the game.
“I think our defense played well enough for us to win today. Offensively, even though we’ve got some banged up guys, we’ve got to get something together this week, patch things up, get the people we can back out there and try to get a win against (West Virginia) State.”
The Falcons will play their home opener Saturday at 1 p.m. when West Virginia State pays a visit to Duvall-Rosier Field. Concord, on the other hand, will host West Liberty next Saturday.
Fans of offensive football here Saturday were appalled.
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