FAIRFIELD — It felt like backyard football at Fairfield High School on Friday when Mt. Pleasant and Fairfield brace the elements to renew their rivalry. On a muddy and foggy night, it was the Panthers who prevailed, scoring the first three touchdowns of the game to win 21-6.
The two offenses had all sorts of trouble moving the ball in the first half. Fairfield controlled field position in the first quarter thanks to an interception by Aiden Lyons and a Panther turnover on downs, but the Trojans couldn’t sniff the end zone.
The game threatened to go into halftime scoreless. The two offenses traded punts until the Panthers began to gain ground via the wheels of quarterback Jack Johnson. Johnson opened the scoring after a botched snap, scooping the ball up and taking it through the left side for a 29-yard score. The extra point made it 7-0 Mt. Pleasant at the break.
That score jump-started the Panther offense. Johnson scored two early rushing touchdowns in the third quarter. He found another hole and scampered 21 yards to the house on the Panthers’ first drive, and made it 21-0 on a 23-yard run with 7:30 showing on the clock.
“I know this is weird, but when I was younger, I used to go outside and play with my brother all the time,” Johnson said about the mucky conditions. “I’m kind of used to it.”
Johnson’s third touchdown was set up by a Brennen Bender fumble recovery. Bender fell on a loose ball at the Trojans’ 37-yard line, one of two Panther take-aways in the quarter.
“This is the best kind of game,” Bender said. “It’s a lot harder to get your feet under you, but you’re just flying around and sliding around, and it’s a lot more fun to hit somebody too.”
Chase Williamson had the second take-away of the quarter when he picked off a pass from Trojan quarterback Isaac Harris. Mt. Pleasant’s offense made it back into the red zone, but Fairfield made a stop and forced a field goal try, which sailed wide of the uprights.
The Trojans finally broke through on a big play with just 2:29 left in the ballgame. Harris scrambled to his right and hit Brody Angstead over the middle, and Angstead went 90 yards to the house for the longest touchdown of the game. The two-point conversion failed, however, and the score stayed 21-6.
“It was just a messy, muddy game, but hats off to Fairfield,” said Mt. Pleasant head coach Shawn Striegel. “They played their tails off and gave us fits all over the place, but in the War on 34, you’d expect that.”
Johnson rushed for 223 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Panthers. He was also 4-for-11 throwing the ball for 24 yards and an interception.
Avery Scanderidge added 38 yards on the ground. Klayon Kleinkopf ran for 32. The Panther defense was led by Brady Hall, who had six tackles on the night.
Harris went 4-for-16 throwing the ball for 142 yards and a score. Angstead caught two balls for 102 yards and a touchdown, and both Tate Allen and Max Weaton had a 20-yard catch. Fairfield gained negative yards rushing.
Fairfield’s Blake Metz ended the night with 12 tackles to lead the Trojans. The pick by Lyons was Fairfield’s only take-away.
“That was one good football team we faced, and a bigger team than we’ve faced all year, and I thought our guys handled that really well,” said Fairfield head coach Nate Weaton. “I don’t think 21-6 was really indicative of what the game was. We made some critical mistakes and shot ourselves in the foot a few times.”
Mt. Pleasant is now 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the district. They’ll welcome in a Top-5 Washington team for homecoming this Friday. Fairfield is now 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the district, and will face off with Burlington in the Grayhounds’ homecoming game this Friday.